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Red Oak running back CJ Palmer rushed for over 250 yards Friday night against Princeton. (Fred Phipps/KBEC Sports)

Palmer, Hawks offense light up Princeton in home opener

By Travis M. Smith | KBEC Sports

Over 670 yards of offense and two skill players combining for six touchdowns propelled the Red Oak Hawks to a double-digit win Friday night.

The Hawks scored three touchdowns in the each of the first, third and fourth quarters to soundly defeat (1-1) Princeton, 77-48, at Billy Goodloe Stadium. The game, which served as the home opener for Red Oak, was also the second KBEC Sports Game of the Week this season.

Red Oak picked up 724 total yards of offense, which included 483 yards on the ground.

CJ Palmer accounted for 257 of those rushing yards on 16 carries (16.1 YPC). He scored the first of his three rushing touchdowns early in the first quarter to put Red Oak up, 7-0.

Palmer also added touchdown runs of 1 and 24 yards in the third and fourth quarters, respectively.

Red Oak running back CJ Palmer plows through a Princeton defender Friday night. (Fred Phipps/KBEC Sports)

Red Oak tailback Zach Sanders totaled 162 rushing yards and two scores on 16 carries (10.1 YPC), while Ke’Shawn Merritt (2-64, TD) and Kentrell Anderson (1-4) also carried the football.

“I thought, offensively, we played extremely well,” Red Oak head football coach Chris Ross told KBEC Sports. “We threw the ball, ran the ball — really, we were just able to do whatever we wanted to do. Our offensive line did a great job of controlling the line of scrimmage and then Josh [Ervin] made plays when he had to through the air.”

Ervin, the Hawks junior quarterback, completed all 13 of his passing attempts for 241 yards and five touchdowns.

Coby Cavil pulled down three of those Ervin touchdown passes. He finished the game with 165 yards on seven receptions.

Raymond Gay caught four passes for 52 yards, while Tristan Lee finished with two receptions for 23 yards. Both Gay and Lee caught an Ervin touchdown pass.

Following the win, Ervin said he expects the victory to serve as a launch point for the close-knit Hawks moving forward.

Red Oak junior Josh Ervin tosses a pass Friday night against Princeton. He completed all 13 passing attempts during the Hawks win. (Fred Phipps/KBEC Sports)

“I grew up with these guys. We are a great team, but we are also family. We really are,” Ervin said. “We are a real close group of guys and, if we come together and play like we know how to, then I feel like we are unstoppable. I am ready for the rest of this season.”

If there were any negatives to point to in the Hawks 29-point win, it’d be the number of penalties (10-110) and the yards allowed (511).

Princeton quarterback Brendon Strickland completed 24-of-his-44 passes for 290 yards for one touchdown and two interceptions.

Jalaydon Hill rushed 24 times for 151 yards (6.3 YPC) and four touchdowns to pace the Panthers rushing attack. Kendall Jones scored two rushing touchdowns on his three carries for 19 yards, while also adding 11 catches for 141 yards.

After the game, the Red Oak head coach noted the less-than-frequent lapses and also pointed to the weather plus the pace of play as factoring into the high-scoring affair.

“Special teams were much improved and we did some good thing defensively,” Ross said. “This was the kind of game where everyone was worn down on both sides of the ball. It was a hot and humid night and it took its toll on their defense and ours, as well.

“There were obviously some things that we did well and some things that we need to work on. Ultimately, we got the stops that we needed to win the game.”


Red Oak, which improved to 1-1 on the young season, returns to action at 7 p.m. Friday against Frisco Heritage.

Before heading to the locker room, Ross told KBEC Sports, “The thing that I am going to take out of it was that our focus was much better. We were able to play a lot of young guys and we will get to evaluate them on both sides of the ball.”


All photos by Fred Phipps/KBEC Sports


Travis M. Smith, @Travis5mith


About Travis M. Smith

Travis M. Smith is the owner and content director of Ellis County Sports and has over a decade of award-winning sports coverage. He most recently served as the digital sports director for KBEC 1390AM/99.1FM. He is the former managing editor of the Waxahachie Daily Light, Midlothian Mirror and Glen Rose Reporter.

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