ARLINGTON — With two minutes left in the third quarter, No. 7 Red Oak sat in cruise control with a 35-7 lead. The Hawks had figured out a way to stifle a Braswell offense that entered Saturday night averaging 519.2 yards per game.
Then, things started to get hectic at AT&T Stadium.
Running back Ifesimi Yessuff raced 48 yards for a touchdown to instill life back into the Bengals’ sideline. Braswell finished the game with 23 unanswered points and had multiple chances to tie or take the lead at the end of the game.
However, Red Oak cornerback Donovan Jemerson intercepted two passes in the final two minutes of the game to help Red Oak to a 35-30 victory and diminish hopes of an incredulous Braswell comeback.
“I always felt like we could get back in it,” coach Cody Moore said. “And we did. I’m just proud of our kids for fighting their tails off, and that’s all you can ask of them.”
The Hawks came out swinging in the first half. Red Oak quarterback Joshua Ervin threw for 335 yards and three touchdowns in the first half. Two of those scores went to Coby Cavil, who had six receptions for 230 yards in the opening 24 minutes.
The Braswell defensive line sacked Ervin several times, but when the Hawks’ athletic signal caller eluded pressure, he was deadly. Ervin tossed touchdowns of 58, 59 and 99 yards in the first half.
Red Oak (11-1) held a prolific Braswell offense to 143 yards in the first half. Braswell didn’t convert a first down until three minutes into the second quarter.
“I don’t know that I can put my finger on one thing,” Moore said of the offensive struggles. “I don’t know that we were playing particularly well up front in the first half. We adjusted a few things at halftime, and it was definitely better later on.”
Yessuff finished the game with 92 yards on 10 carries, while Jacob Hernandez ended his junior season with an exceptional effort of 11 catches for 192 yards and a touchdown.
Quarterback Greyson Thompson threw for 322 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions. The senior quarterback finished his tenure with 5,828 career passing yards.
With just over two minutes left on the clock and Red Oak leading 35-28, Thompson found Jacob Hernandez for a 62-yard gain that put the Bengals on the Red Oak nine-yard line. Two plays later, Thompson’s pass was picked off by Jemerson at the one.
On the next play, Braswell’s defense – which limited the Hawks to seven points in the second half – tackled Red Oak in the end zone for a safety to pull within five points with over a minute remaining.
On Braswell’s next possession, Thompson’s fourth down prayer was picked off by Jemerson, which capped off the victory for Red Oak.
Despite the loss, the Braswell 2019 football team will be etched in history. The Bengals finished the season 9-3 with two gold trophies, the first of any kind in program history. Moore said this team laid the foundation for many years to come.
“It hurts right now, and it should,” Moore said. “There’s nothing wrong with that. But when we have a chance to step back and reflect, our kids will see how much they’ve accomplished. They’ve done so much for this community and school. It can never be underestimated, and it can never be taken away.”
Red Oak 35, Braswell 30
RO — C.J. Palmer 1 run (Dakota Santos kick)
RO — Coby Cavil 99 pass from Joshua Ervin (Dakota Santos kick)
RO — Coby Cavil 58 pass from Joshua Ervin (Dakota Santos kick)
DB — Jacob Hernandez 21 pass from Greyson Thompson (Arturo Ramirez kick)
RO — Raymond Gay II 59 pass from Joshua Ervin (Dakota Santos kick)
RO — LaKelsey Johnson 30 pass from Joshua Ervin (Dakota Santos kick)
DB — Ifesimi Yessuff 48 run (Arturo Ramirez kick)
DB — Cam Smith 30 pass from Greyson Thompson (Arturo Ramirez kick)
DB — Tristan McClary 1 run (Arturo Ramirez kick)
DB — CJ Johnson 0 safety, ball carrier tackled in endzone
Rushing — DB: Ifesimi Yessuff 10-92, Tristan McClary 4-12, Jamerion Sanford 6-11, Cameron Lara 7-8, Cam Smith 1--5, Greyson Thompson 2--11, RO: C.J. Palmer 25-79, Zach Sanders 3-15, Joshua Ervin 5--25.
Passing — DB: Greyson Thompson 21-37-3-322, RO: Joshua Ervin 14-23-0-381.
Receiving — DB: Jacob Hernandez 11-196, Cam Smith 5-93, J’Kalon Carter 2-27, Tristan McClary 1-4, Cameron Lara 1-1, Ifesimi Yessuff 1-1, RO: Coby Cavil 7-241, Raymond Gay II 5-106, LaKelsey Johnson 2-34.