[By Anthony Hawthorne, Special to ETSN.fm]

LUFKIN -- On paper, a Tatum Eagles team entering the playoffs with a 5-5 record didn't seem very dangerous.

Fortunately for Tatum, the game isn’t played on paper. The Eagles played a solid game defensively, took advantage of their opportunities and moved onto the third round of the playoffs with a 35-12 victory over Coldspring-Oakhurst in a Class 4A Division II Region II area-round matchup Saturday at Abe Martin Stadium.

The Eagles (7-5) advanced to the regional semifinals where they will meet either district rival Atlanta (11-1). Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. Friday from Pirate Stadium in Longview.

An impressive season for Coldspring-Oakhurst ended at 9-3.

Quarterback Chaston Brooks lead the way for the Eagles, completing 5 of his 10 pass attempts for 74 yards and two touchdowns, while adding 33 yards on the ground.

Deyanta Robertson caught both of Brooks' TD passes, for 4 and 41 yards, finishing with four catches for 52 yards on the day. Denarius Earl added 73 yards and a score on the ground.

The Eagles struggled at times to move the ball against a solid Trojans defense, accumulating just 152 yards on the ground, yet took advantage of two bad snaps on punts and numerous penalties.

“They were a lot bigger and more physical than us up front,” said Tatum coach Andy Evans. “We had to trick them and do some things like that to get points. We got enough breaks out of the special teams that it gave us a chance.”

After a tough regular season schedule, the Eagles seem well prepared to make a playoff run after winning their third straight.

“I think with the schedule we’ve played, today, made it worth it,” Evans said. “We’ve had some real battles on our hands. People thought we weren’t very good because we didn’t win against some very good opponents. Our kids got their head down, it was good for us to learn to fight through that and keep playing, and we have."

Trailing 21-6 at the break, the Trojans' opening possession of the second half ended with a snap over the punter's head that traveled 30 yards, setting the Eagles up at the 8-yard line. Two plays later, Brooks hit Ryan Hyde for an 8-yard score.

Brooks made a big play on defense next, tackling Coldspring-Oakhurst's Tristan Ham for a 3-yard loss on fourth-and-14, giving the ball right back to the Eagles.

Brooks hit playmaker Marvin Williams deep along the sideline and the receiver hurdled his defender, nearly getting into the end zone, getting pushed out at the 1-yard line. Lemarcus Harmon got in two plays later for the score, and the Eagles had a commanding 35-6 lead.

The Trojans offense just couldn’t get anything going against a Tatum defense playing at a high level. The Eagles' secondary was particularly stingy, breaking up several deep passes that prevented potential big plays.

“I thought we played lights out on defense,” Evans said. “That’s probably as good as we’ve played defensively all year. Our defensive coordinator Brian Price did a great job with the game plan and our defensive coaches. I was really pleased.”

Drevion Cooper lead the way for the Trojans, rushing for 134 yards on 23 carries and a TD. Quarterback Brock Barbay completed just 5 of his 16 passes for 58 yards and two interceptions

Things started slow for both teams in the first half, with Tatum punting twice early and the Trojans turning it over on downs.

A bad snap on a Trojans punt gave the Eagles the ball at the Coldspring-Oakhurst 38. An 18-yard scramble by Brooks on third-and-7 moved the ball into the redzone, while a Trojans personal foul penalty put the ball inside the 5. Brooks hit Robertson on a fade route on third-and-goal and the big receiver went up and got it, putting the Eagles in front 7-0 as the first quarter ended.

Coldspring-Oakhurst picked up its initial first down of the game with just over seven minutes remaining in the second quarter on a roughing the punter penalty, keeping the Trojans' drive alive. Barbay hit Ham on third-and-1 for a 28-yard gain, and Cooper found the end zone two plays later. The extra point was no good, keeping Tatum in front 7-6.

Marvin Williams set up the Eagles on the game's ensuing drive with a 20-yard kickoff return to midfield, and following an Eagles penalty, Earl went left and cut back up the middle where the speedy back outran everyone for a 55-yard touchdown.

Tre Williams did his best to match the Eagles' return, taking the ball back 58 yards on the ensuing kickoff, however the Trojans failed to take advantage. Brooks broke up a Trojans pass on fourth-and-3, giving the Eagles the ball back with just less than three minutes remaining, looking to build on their lead.

They did just that, and used some trickery to do it. After a 28-yard scramble by Brooks brought the ball across midfield, a double reverse pass did the trick. Earl took the handoff, gave it to J.D. Taylor and the junior hit Robertson deep over a pair of defenders for a 41-yard TD, pushing the Eagles' lead to 21-6 at the half.


Tatum 35, Coldspring-Oakhurst 12

Class 4A Division II
Region II Area Playoff
At Abe Martin Stadium, Lufkin

Coldspring-Oakhurst       0      6      0      6    --    12
Tatum                              7    14    14      0    --    35

First Quarter
TAT--Deyanta Roberson 4 pass from Chaston Brooks (Jesus Sandoval kick), :00.
Second Quarter
CO--Drevion Cooper 14 run (kick failed), 5:09.
TAT--Denarius Earl 55 run (Sandoval kick), 4:52.
TAT--Roberson 41 pass from J.D. Taylor (Sandoval kick), :30.
Third Quarter
TAT--Ryan Hyde 8 pass from Brooks (Sandoval kick), 9:21.
TAT--Lemarcus Harmon 1 run (Sandoval kick), 4:15.
Fourth Quarter
CO--Brett Sykes 85 fumble return (two-point failed), :38.

                                             CO                 TAT
First Downs                             12                   10
Total Yards                            217                 267
Rushes-Yards                   44-159           37-152
Passing Yards                          58                115
Comp.-Att.-Int.                  5-16-2           6-12-0
Punts-Avg.                         2-39.0           4-38.0
Fumbles-Lost                          1-1                3-1
Penalties-Yards                    11-79             4-30

RUSHING--Coldspring-Oakhurst, Drevion Cooper 23-134, Daylon Giddens 14-55, Edward Hayes 2-9, Tre Williams 1-5, Brock Barbay 3-4, Brett Sykes 1-1. Tatum, Denarius Earl 6-73, Chaston Broooks 8-33, Josh Ivy 9-28, Devon Boyd 4-19, Lemarcus Harmon 6-9, J.D. Taylor 3-4, Antonio Shaw 1-0.
PASSING--Coldspring-Oakhurst, Barbay 5-16-2--58. Tatum, Brooks 5-10-0--74, Taylor 1-1-0--41, Boyd 0-1-0--0.
RECEIVING--Coldspring-Oakhurst, Tristan Ham 3-32, Giddens 1-13, Williams 1-13. Tatum, Deyanta Roberson 4-52, Martin Williams 1-54, Ryan Hyde 1-8.