[By Tony Kirk, Special to ETSN.fm]

GLADEWATER -- The ninth-ranked Gladewater Bears ran past the Pleasant Grove Hawks, 41-21, Friday night at Jack V. Murphy Bear Stadium.

Gladewater piled up 297 yards on the ground with Justice Centers going for 112. Bears quarterback Nick Canaguier was 7 of 11 for 136 yards.

Gladewater's James Reese is brought down by the Pleasant Grove defense during their game Friday night in Gladewater. (Jim Frake, ETSN.fm)

The Bears (7-1, 3-0 in District 6-4A Division II), who are in the driver’s seat for the district championship, will take on the Spring Hill Panthers next Friday night. Pleasant Grove (5-3, 1-2), meanwhile, returns home to face Center next week.

Gladewater took a 13-0 lead into halftime after a pair of Centers touchdown runs in the second quarter. The first came from 2 yards out capped a nine-play, 80-yard drive with 8:43 to go in the second quarter. Centers’ second came from 4 yards out, but the two-point conversion attempt failed as Daylon Mack mishandled the shotgun snap.

Pleasant Grove squandered three first-half possessions inside Gladewater’s 30-yard line.  One ended on a missed field goal, another on a DeVuntay Walker fumble, and a third on downs.

Darnell McKnight started the scoring for Gladewater in the second half with a 12-yard touchdown, which finished off an 11-play, 70-yard drive and gave the Bears a 20-0 lead with 7:45 remaining in the third.

Pleasant Grove's Ty Everett breaks free for a touchdown as teammate Connor Lemmerhirt (20) signals during the Hawks' 41-21 loss at Gladewater on Friday night. (Jim Frake, ETSN.fm)

Four minutes later, Pleasant Grove got on the board with a 3-yard Walker touchdown run.

Centers answered two plays later with a 65-yard TD scamper for the Bears. Mack punched in the two-point conversion to push the lead back out to three scores, 28-7.

Ty Everett’s 46-yard kick return set up a short field for the Hawks. Connor Lemmerhirt’s 19-yard reception from Jacob Smith got the ball down to Gladewater’s 18. Everett’s jet sweep from there made it 28-14 with 10:14 remaining in the fourth.

Hunter Hatfield then blocked a Bears punt, positioning Smith for a 15-yard TD run that cut Gladewater's lead to 28-21. But the Bears responded with a seven-play, 75-yard drive that finished with Daryl Polk dashing in from 12 yards out for six.

A late Hawks' comeback was thwarted when Smith was hit, forcing an interception that defensive lineman Mick Carmona returned 60 yards for the final Bears' touchdown.

Gladewater defenders Kenneth Ainsworth (35), Quanterius Turner (44), Daylon Mack (34) and Eric Abston (58) pursue during the Bears' 41-21 home win over Pleasant Grove on Friday night. (Jim Frake, ETSN.fm)