Written by Jon Machota
Ball-control attack fuels Red Oak's stunning 17-0 upset of No. 2 Lancaster
RED OAK — With a three-score lead over the top Class 4A team in the SportsDayHS area rankings and No. 2 team in The Associated Press’ state poll, the Red Oak offensive line probably couldn’t have picked a better time to play its best half of the season.
Red Oak’s front-five played so well Friday night that Lancaster only possessed the ball twice during the final 24 minutes, the deciding factor in pulling off a 17-0 upset at Billy Goodlow Stadium.
“We keep telling them, you just keep getting better and better and driving the ball, and if you keep the other offense off the field, they can’t score,” Red Oak coach Mike Shields said of his offensive line. “It feels super right now. It gives us a chance to get in the playoffs, and it even gives us a chance for a district championship.”
The group that led Red Oak (5-3, 4-1 10-4A) up front consisted of center Ben Blakley, left guard Thomas Marek, left tackle Trent Haynes, right guard Zakeius Clerk and right tackle Steven Patton.
Benefitting from their work was the trio of Cameron Bausley, Tyler Scott and Jeremiah Gaines. Those three running backs combined for 201 yards on 46 carries. Bausley did the majority of the work with 32 rushes for 117 yards.
But it wasn’t solely on the offense. After all, Red Oak defenders limited Lancaster’s potent offense to only 62 yards in the first half. Lancaster (7-1, 4-1) came in averaging 423.6 yards and 37.1 points per game.
Shutting down Demarcus Ayers was the key. The senior quarterback entered with a 10.5 rushing average on 64 carries but was held to 10 yards on 14 rushes.
All of Red Oak’s scoring occurred in the second quarter with both touchdown drives coming after Lancaster fumbles. After Travier Jackson out-jumped a defender and dove past another to record the game’s first score on a 14-yard pass from Austin Van Hove, an Ayers fumble left Red Oak 29 yards away from the end zone. Gaines then capped a seven-play drive with a 1-yard score.
“I’m not shocked,” Lancaster coach Chris Gilbert said. “They’re a good football team. I thought they created a matchup problem for us. It starts with me, and we’ll do a better job. We’ll be OK.”