No. 5 Tatum’s Ground Game Fuels Five-Touchdown Run in 42-21 Victory Against White Oak
TATUM — A 14-point second-quarter hole wasn’t enough to contain Tatum’s ground game in Friday night’s matchup of unbeaten teams.
After White Oak jumped to a 21-7 advantage, fifth-ranked Tatum took over, scoring the game’s final 35 points and eclipsing 300 rushing yards in an impressive 42-21 District 9-2A Division I-opening win at Eagle Stadium.
Tatum (6-0, 1-0) has won 17 of the last 18 meetings against White Oak (5-1, 0-1), which had not yielded more than 14 points in any of its first five games. Tatum is now 18-5 vs. White Oak since 1968 and enters next week’s game at Troup (5-1, 1-0) as the frontrunner in the 9-2A D-I race.
Senior Jaylen Shans led Tatum’s powerful rushing attack, which finished with 342 yards on the ground and 410 total. Shans ran 18 times for 206 yards and three touchdowns, including a 53-yarder and an 84-yarder, which gave the Eagles a 28-21 lead halfway through the third quarter.
Three other Tatum players ran for at least 40 yards — junior Chaston Brooks (3-51), senior Demetrius Hill (8-46), and junior Devon Boyd (9-45). Brooks scored on a 47-yard, highlight-reel run that saw him break several tackles to cut White Oak’s lead to 21-14 about 2 1/2 minutes into the second quarter.
Two empty red-zone possessions in the third quarter killed White Oak’s offensive momentum and helped Tatum take control of the game. Hill recovered a fumble on the first — which Shans immediately followed with his 84-yard touchdown — while Tatum stopped the Roughnecks on downs on the second red-zone trip. That led to a 15-play, 86-yard drive capped by sophomore quarterback J.D. Taylor’s three-yard touchdown run for a 35-21 lead 2 1/2 minutes into the fourth.
“We just kinda felt the force there at the end and we were just winning the battle at the line of scrimmage,” said Tatum head coach Andy Evans of his team’s running game. “I didn’t know if we could do that. I thought that was gonna be the hard thing for us, but our kids won that battle.”
Tatum capped the night when Taylor hit junior Deyanta Roberson on a 48-yard touchdown pass with 3:52 to play. Roberson led the Eagles with four catches for 64 yards, accounting for all but four of Taylor’s 68 yards on 6-for-9 passing.
Tatum’s pass rush was impressive, accumulating five sacks and keeping White Oak senior quarterback Dylan Gale on the run most of the night. Tatum junior Ryan Hyde had two sacks, while Hill, junior Chris Starling, and senior Collin Gage had one sack apiece.
“I think as the night went on, we began to get some pressure. I think they got a little bit tired,” Evans said. “Our kids just kept coming and kept coming. Coach (Bryan) Price did a great job. It’s the best defensive game plan I believe I’ve ever been a part of. He’s just a great defensive coordinator.”
White Oak scored eight more points than Tatum’s first five opponents combined, but the Eagles contained the Roughnecks’ spread offense, limiting White Oak to 341 yards, only 112 of which came after halftime. Tatum smothered White Oak’s running game in the final two quarters, which saw the Roughnecks gain only 13 yards on 15 rushes.
Tatum senior safety Klifton Willis picked off his East Texas-leading 11th pass in the first quarter. White Oak senior defensive back Cass Carr also had an interception.
Gale played valiantly despite frequent pressure from Tatum’s defensive front. He completed 12 of 24 passes for 221 yards, one touchdown, and one interception, while rushing 18 times for 27 yards and a touchdown. The passing touchdown was a 91-yarder to senior Gabe Michael, who gave the Roughnecks a 14-7 lead late in the first. Michael finished with a game-high seven catches for 132 yards.
White Oak senior Riley Lakin gained all but nine of his rushing yards in the first half. He finished with 93 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries. His four-yard touchdown run 4 1/2 minutes into the game tied the score 7-7 and sparked a 21-point White Oak run.
White Oak senior defensive tackle Jason Heim had two tackles for loss and combined with junior Jake Pullen on a sack. Senior Erick Susvilla recovered a fumble.
District 9-2A Division I
No. 5 Tatum 42, White Oak 21
Eagle Stadium, Tatum
White Oak — 14 7 0 0 — 21
Tatum — 7 14 7 14 — 42
TAT — Jaylen Shans 8 run (Dusty Richardson kick) — 9:11
WO — Riley Lakin 4 run (Jack Rogers kick) — 7:32
WO — Gabe Michael 91 pass from Dylan Gale (Rogers kick) — 2:19
WO — Gale 1 run (Rogers kick) — 10:19
TAT — Chaston Brooks 47 run (Richardson kick) — 9:41
TAT — Jaylen Shans 53 run (Richardson kick) — 3:13
TAT — Shans 84 run (Richardson kick) — 6:05
TAT — J.D. Taylor 3 run (Richardson kick) — 9:28
TAT — Deyanta Roberson 48 pass from Taylor (Richardson kick) — 3:52
First downs 21 15
Total yards 341 410
Rushes-Yards 42-120 42-342
Passing yards 221 68
Comp.-Att.-Int. 12-25-1 6-10-1
Penalties 4-35 7-70
Fumbles 2-1 2-1
Punts-Avg. 3-47.3 4-39.0
RUSHING — White Oak: Riley Lakin 24-93, Dylan Gale 18-27. Tatum: Jaylen Shans 18-206, Chaston Brooks 3-51, Demetrius Hill 8-46, Devon Boyd 9-45, J.D. Taylor 4-14, Kyshaun Smith 1-(-6), TEAM 1-(-13).
PASSING — White Oak: Dylan Gale 12-24-1 221, Cass Carr 0-1-0. Tatum: J.D. Taylor 6-9-1 68, Kyshaun Smith 0-1-0.
RECEIVING — White Oak: Gabe Michael 7-132, Cass Carr 2-32, Jansen McCurdy 1-35, Hayden Nichols 2-22. Tatum: Deyanta Roberson 4-64, Dyllan Fields 1-8, Jaylen Shans 1-(-4).