TATUM — Andy Evans is not known around East Texas as a soothsayer, but the Tatum head coach was able to look into the future on Friday night.
With his team trailing to White Oak 21-7 in the second quarter, the Eagles were able to rally and make it 21-21 at halftime.
In the locker room, Evans told his team what the final score was going to be. The Eagles then went out and made it so.
Thanks to 202 yards rushing and three touchdowns from senior Jaylen Shans and a relentless second-half defensive effort, Tatum defeated White Oak 42-21.
It was the district opener between two unbeaten teams as Tatum moves to 6-0 and 1-0 in 9-2A Division I while White Oak drops to 5-1 and 0-1.
“I told them at halftime, of course you never know what is going to happen, but I said ‘This will be the night you remember forever that you were 21-7 down and came back to win 42-21,’” Evans said. “It just happened. Our kids just played really good.”
The two teams had given up a combined five touchdowns in their first five games. Tatum also had been turning teams over with defensive back Klifton Willis setting a school record with 10 interceptions.
Well, add another one to that and even more takeaways by the Tatum defense, which forced three altogether to go along with three turnovers on downs.
White Oak quarterback Dylan Gale faced a heavy rush, but still finished with 214 yards passing and a touchdown. Gale also scored a rushing TD. White Oak running back Riley Lakin rushed 25 times for 99 yards and a score.
The Eagles led 7-0 after White Oak fumbled on the opening kickoff and Shans scored his first TD from 8 yards out.
White Oak responded with 21 unanswered points. Gale led a drive that culminated in a 4-yard TD run by Lakin to tie the score.
Then on third and-11, backed up at his own 9, Gale dropped a perfect pass over the Tatum defender to receiver Gabe Michael who ran the rest of the way for a 91-yard touchdown. Michael finished the game with 126 yards receiving on five catches.
Michael’s TD made it 14-7 and White Oak took over again following a three-and-out by Tatum to punch in another TD, this time with Gale doing the honors on a 1-yard sneak.
Things looked to be falling apart for the home side as Chaston Brooks went in at quarterback and dropped the snap.
But Brooks picked it up, composed himself and forced his way through the line on the busted play and did not stop running until he was in the end zone for a 47-yard TD.
“That play by Chaston was big,” Evans said. “We had kind of got our heads down and after that our kids came back and played really good.”
A 53-yard scoring run by Shans made it 21-21 at halftime, and he was just getting started, scoring in the third quarter on an 84-yard run to give Tatum the lead back and the Eagles never looked back.
Tatum 42, White Oak 21
White Oak 14 7 0 0 — 21
Tatum 7 14 7 14 — 42
TAT—Jaylen Shans 8 run (Dusty Richardson kick), 9:11
WO—Riley Lakin 4 run (Jack Rogers kick), 7:32
WO—Gabe Michael 91 pass from Dylan Gale (Rogers kick), 2:19
WO—Gale 1 run (Rogers kick), 10:02
TAT—Chaston Brooks 47 run (Richardson kick), 9:41
TAT—Shans 53 run (Richardson kick), 3:13
TAT—Shans 84 run (Richardson kick), 5:58
TAT—J.D. Taylor 3 run (Richardson kick), 9:28
TAT—Deyanta Roberson 52 pass from Taylor (Richardson kick), 3:52
First Downs 24 17
Rushes-Yards 42-126 44-294
Passing Yards 214 71
Punts-Avg. 3-47.6 4-39.5
Fumbles-Lost 3-2 4-1
Penalties-Yards 4-35 10-105
RUSHING—White Oak, Riley Lakin 25-99, Dylan Gale 17-27. Tatum, Jaylen Shans 17-202, Chaston Brooks 3-51, Devon Boyd 9-28, J.D. Taylor 4-15, Kyshaun Smith 1-(minus 7), Team 1-(minus 12).
PASSING—White Oak, Gale 11-25-1 214, Cass Carr 0-1-0 0. Tatum, Taylor 6-10-1 71, Smith 0-1-0 0.
RECEIVING—White Oak, Gabe Michael 6-126, Carr 2-32, Hayden Nichols 2-22, Jansen McCurdy 1-33. Tatum, Deyanta Roberson 4-67, Dyllan Fields 1-8, Shans 1-(minus 4).