GARLAND —Robert E. Lee wanted to start fast and go on the ascendancy for once this season instead of being forced to try and come from behind late.
Well, five consecutive touchdown drives accomplished that goal rather nicely. Lee turned a 7-7 game in the early minutes of the second quarter into a runaway 41-7 lead en route to a 41-21 victory Friday against Garland Lakeview Centennial.
The win moves Lee to 3-3 overall and pushes the Red Raiders to 2-1 in District 11-6A. This is the first time REL has been over .500 in district play since 2009.
So, how did REL run Lakeview Centennial off the field in its own stadium?
The Red Raiders borrowed the NASCAR-style offense their cross-town rival John Tyler employed two years ago which helped the Lions produce school records for offense.
Lakeview Centennial did not have time to catch its breath, much less make adjustments to the Red Raiders continual success on first and second down. When Lee was faced with a third down, it was usually third and short and taken care of by either junior quarterback Zach Hall on a keeper or blast around the edge from junior running backs Tavon Wesley and Devonte Craver.
"There was one series we didn't score in the first half and I think that was our fault," Lee coach Darrell Piske said of the Red Raider offense. "Really, we just got our game going, going fast. They weren't able to stop us and we knew that.
The linemen did a good job staying on their blocks, backs did a good job running and Zach did a good job reading (his keys)."
Lee scoring five-straight touchdowns would've done the Red Raiders little benefit without the REL defense doing its part. The Red Raiders stop unit held Lakeview Centennial scoreless on seven straight possessions.
Even when REL lost a fumble at its own 25, the Red Raiders defense did not falter. It wasn't until the fourth quarter with the game in hand that Lakeview Centennial broke through for two scores.
REL swarmed Lakeview Centennial's quarterback T.J. Edwards for seven sacks. And it could've been more if not for Edwards Houdini-like escapability.
Registering sacks for Lee in the game were Greyson Calhoun, Braden Coates, Brandon Durman, Josh Haralson, Teddy Matlock, De'Havion McFarland and Campbell Miller.
It was a feeding frenzy overall for a relentless REL pass rush13 different players recording two tackles or more.
"We had to start and finish and I think we did that tonight," Piske said.
Piske believes four district wins will clinch a playoff spot and REL is halfway there with the victory over Lakeview Centennial. The Red Raiders now face Garland (4-2, 2-1) at home on Friday.
Robert E. Lee Rewind
Final score: Robert E. Lee 41, Garland Lakeview Centennial 21
Turning point: The Red Raiders led 27-7 at halftime, but benefitted from two dropped passes by Lakeview Centennial, one in the end zone on the final play of the half. Lee needed to make a statement coming out of the locker room in the third quarter and REL did with a 13-play, 90 yard drive capped by a 1-yard touchdown run by Zach Hall to make it 34-7.
The game was over when: Centennial tried to answer Lee's TD in the third quarter and was stopped on fourth down. REL quickly tacked on another score to put the contest away.
Key stats: Lee was able to overcome having two touchdowns called back by penalties and 10 for 78 overall.
Warning signs: Really the only negative in a game full of positives is REL missing on an extra point for the sixth time this season because of a snap/hold issues.
Positive signs: Lee knows now that when it turns up the pace of its offense, opponents have been unable to contain it. It works even better when the Red Raiders do not have to rally from two-touchdown deficits. This game the speedy pace simply allowed REL to pull away from Lakeview Centennial.
What this win means: Lee takes another step toward a potential playoff spot.
Fast forward: The Red Raiders return home to face Garland for the first time ever in a non-playoff setting. Lee is 2-1 historically against the Owls.