Visiting Red Oak outscores Panthers

MHS still in playoff chase, but must win final 3 games

Bill Spinks
Midlothian Mirror

The old saying goes, “If you got two quarterbacks, you got no quarterback.” But now that the Red Oak Hawks have finally settled on one signal-caller, the drive toward a District 4-5A (I) championship in a crowded field is on.

Senior Joshua Ervin completed 17 of 21 passes for 178 yards and two touchdowns, and Zach Sanders rushed for 207 yards and four scores as the Hawks scored on five straight possessions mid-game and then held on for a 46-35 win over the Midlothian Panthers on Friday night at MISD Multipurpose Stadium.

Ervin last year led the Hawks to arguably their most successful season in school history en route to All-Ellis County offensive player of the year honors. However, Ervin saw his playing time reduced while the team tried to work high-profile sophomore transfer Chris Parson into the mix.

In Friday’s game, Ervin took 100 percent of the snaps, leading the Hawks (3-2, 3-1) to 443 yards of total offense.

The Panthers (3-3, 1-3) were able to stay in sight of the Hawks and cut the score to 40-35 with 5:06 left in the game on Ethan Hill’s 1-yard plunge. But on this night, the Hawks had an answer for everything, and they drove a quick 75 yards to tack on the final touchdown of the night with 2:27 to go on Sanders’ fourth and final TD.

Midlothian finished with 397 total yards, including 299 on the ground led by sophomore De’ago Benson with 109 yards on 11 carries and Hill’s 66 yards and two scores on 12 totes. But the Panthers’ two lost fumbles and an interception proved costly.

On the second play of the second half, with Red Oak leading 27-21, an errant MHS pitch was recovered by Red Oak’s Amarion Craddock at the Panthers’ 33-yard line. One play later, Sanders busted up the middle untouched to add to the Hawks’ lead.

A 5-yard keeper by MHS quarterback Nicholas de los Santos brought the Panthers back to within six, but minutes later Sanders juked a tackler for a 20-yard run, bumping the margin to 40-28 at the 5:33 mark of the third.

The game opened with an exchange of possessions, before Ervin’s scramble for a first-and-goal set up Sanders’ first scoring run in the opening quarter. But Benson’s 58-yard sprint to the Red Oak 8 set up Hill’s first marker f the night, tying things up at 7-all.

Then after forcing a Red Oak three-and-out, the Panthers got another long run of 42 yards from Benson on a toss, and de los Santos completed a 16-yard pass to sophomore Carsen Bates to put MHS on top, 14-7.

But that’s where the Hawks caught fire and began their scoring spree to take the lead for good.

After Ervin passed to Raymond Gay Jr. to bring ROHS within a point, a Panther fumble at their own 18 set up Ervin’s 4-yard toss to a wide-open Jacob Russell at the 3:12 mark of the second. The Panthers took the upper hand one final time on a 24-yard pass from de los Santos to Riley Angel with 1:37 to go, but the Hawks went on top to stay, 27-21,  with 40 seconds on the clock on Ervin’s pass to La’Kelsey Johnson Jr.

The 4-5A (I) standings appear alarming for the Panthers with the top four teams all at one loss or fewer, and the bottom four teams with three losses or more.

However, MHS has three of those teams already on the books and can still secure a playoff berth with three straight wins. The Panthers will travel to Mansfield Legacy this Friday night at R.L. Anderson Stadium, with a big one looming the following Friday night at MISD against Mansfield Summit.