ATHENS – A steady drizzle was falling and it was 35 degrees outside, but the White Oak Roughnecks and about 150 of their fans didn’t seem to mind as they celebrated a historic victory.

This was too sweet a moment to cut short.

The Roughnecks (11-1) used a punishing defensive effort to dominate the high-powered Grandview Zebras in a 35-14 win Friday night in a Class 2A Division I Region III area-round matchup at Bruce Field.

The victory sent the Roughnecks to the third round of the playoffs for the first time since 1971 and avenged their area-round loss to the Zebras last year.

White Oak will face second-ranked Newton (12-0) at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Lufkin's Abe Martin Stadium, according to Roughnecks head coach Gerry Stanford. Newton was a 68-21 winner over Whitney on Friday night.

The Roughnecks did something few teams had done this season by slowing down a Grandview offense that was averaging more than 60 points per game over its last six games. The Zebras (9-3) lost two fumbles – including one on a bizarre play that led to a touchdown – and quarterback Zach Smith was intercepted twice and sacked four times.

Grandview was held to 69 yards in the second half.

“This team (Grandview) came in averaging 55.3 points per game this season – they’re the top-ranked offense in Class 2A,” Stanford said. “But we feel like we’ve got one of the better defenses in 2A, so the challenge for us was to be more physical than them. This was a team win, but our defense really put us on the map tonight.”

The game was tied at 14 until the final moments of the second quarter when Dylan Gale hit Jansen McCurdy with a 47-yard touchdown pass 20 seconds before halftime. The pair also connected on a 12-yard pass for the game’s first score. Both were set up by huge defensive stands, including the first – when the Roughnecks forced a turnover on downs after holding the Zebras out of the end zone four times inside the 5-yard line on their first drive.

The Zebras threatened to score again late in the third quarter, driving down to the White Oak 21. But when Smith dropped back to pass and pump-faked, he was stripped by Roughneck senior Jason Heim, who rumbled 72 yards for a touchdown. White Oak’s final score – Zach Rowe’s 18-yard touchdown run with eight minutes left in the game – was also made possible by another clutch defensive play when Josh Benson intercepted Smith on a long pass downfield.

Class 2A Division I Region III Area Playoff

White Oak 35, Grandview 14

Bruce Field, Athens

Grandview           0   14    0    0    --   14
White Oak          14     7    7    7    --   35
First Quarter
WO--Jansen McCurdy 12 pass from Dylan Gale (Jack Rogers kick), 6:16.
WO--Gale 1 run (Rogers kick), 2:02.
Second Quarter
GRA--Chase Goldwater 6 pass from Zach Smith (Nathan Gullickson), 10:21.
GRA--Bailey Smith 63 pass from Smith (Gullickson kick), 7:18.
WO--McCurdy 47 pass from Gale (Rogers kick), 2:21.
Third Quarter
WO--Jason Heim 72 fumble return (Rogers kick), 2:21.
Fourth Quarter
WO--Zach Rowe 18 run (Rogers kick), 8:04.

                                        GRA               WO
First Downs                           15                 22
Total Yards                           333              359
Rushes-Yards                  34-120          52-217
Passing Yards                       213              142
Comp.-Att.-Int.                15-33-2        11-21-0
Punts-Avg.                        1-35.0          3-24.6
Fumbles-Lost                         3-2               4-2
Penalties-Yards                     4-20            3-25

RUSHING--Grandview, Jordan Martinez, 22-145, Colby Lee 3-3, Peyton Mahan 1-0, Zach Smith 4-(-1), Team 4-(-27). White Oak, RIley Lakin 29-95, Dylan Gale 15-80, Zach Rowe 6-32, Cass Carr 1-15, Team 1-(-5).
PASSING--Grandview, Smith 15-33-2--213. White Oak, Gale 11-21-0--142.
RECEIVING--Grandview, Bailey Smith 5-118, Tyler Fauver 5-44, Chase Goldwater 4-40, Lee 1-11. White Oak, McCurdy 4-76, Carr 2-23, Gabe Michael 2-18, Josh Benson 1-29, Lakin 1-(-4).