ARLINGTON — The Red Oak Hawks were making it look easy in the third quarter, leading 35-7. That should’ve been a huge red flag knowing the team they were playing had beaten them by three touchdowns in the season opener.
Indeed, that was the case as Denton Braswell came storming back with a fearsome rally. But the Hawks survived, and are making more school history in the process.
The Hawks jumped on Braswell early in Saturday night’s Class 5A Division II area-round game at AT&T Stadium, but then had to hold the Bengals off late as they took a 35-30 victory thanks to a pair of clutch Donovan Jemerson interceptions in the final 1:26.
In avenging a 48-27 loss to Braswell in Week 1, the Hawks (11-1) not only set a new school record for wins, eclipsing the old mark of 10 set by the 2007 squad, but also advanced to the third round for only the third time ever.
They will return to AT&T Stadium on Friday night to take on defending state champion Aledo at 7 p.m. in the Region II semifinals. The Bearcats (11-1), who beat Royse City on Friday, are chasing a school-record ninth state football championship.
Jemerson made his first pick at essentially the goal line, leading to a safety as CJ Palmer was tackled in the end zone. The Bengals got the ball back, but Jemerson sealed the outcome with his second pick with 18 seconds left at the Braswell 43-yard line.
Ifesimi Yessuff started Braswell's rally with a 48-yard touchdown run with 1:53 left in the third quarter, then Gabe Okelola recovered the ensuing onside kick to set up a 30-yard touchdown pass from Greyson Thompson to Cam Smith just 27 seconds of game clock later. A 41-yard pass from Thompson to Smith on a fourth-down play set up a one-yard touchdown run by Tristan McClary with 8:27 remaining, and just like that it was a 35-28 game.
Red Oak quarterback Joshua Ervin passed for a season-high 381 yards and four touchdowns. Receiver Coby Cavil had seven receptions for 241 yards and two touchdowns. Cavil had 230 yards receiving in the first half, including a record 99-yard touchdown catch from Ervin with 11:35 in the second quarter to give Red Oak a 14-0 lead.
Cavil also set up Red Oak's first score, a one-yard touchdown run by CJ Palmer on Red Oak's opening drive, with a 59-yard reception. Cavil extended Red Oak's lead to 21-0 with a 58-yard touchdown pass from Ervin with 4:15 left in the second quarter.
Braswell put together a 60-yard drive to get on the scoreboard on a with a 21-yard touchdown pass from Greyson Thompson to Jacob Hernandez, but Red Oak took the momentum back with a 59-yard touchdown pass from Ervin to Raymond Gay II with 11 seconds left in the second quarter to take a 28-7 halftime lead.
LaKelsey Johnson caught what turned out to be a critical, 30-yard touchdown pass from Ervin with 2:29 left in the third quarter. That made it 35-7 and set the stage for Braswell’s comeback.
Braswell’s Thompson finished with 322 yards passing while Hernandez had 11 receptions for a season-high 196 yards. Braylen Butler had three tackles for a loss for the Bengals, including two sacks.