LONGVIEW - West Rusk defeated Hughes Springs 35-7 on Thursday night in a Class 3A Division II bi-district playoff game at Lobo Stadium.
WR quarterback Dee Starling was 9 of 9 passing, throwing for 184 yards and four touchdowns.
Nick Ballard the Raiders on the ground, running for 130 yards and scoring on his first carry.
West Rusk (10-1) advances to the area round to meet Howe, a 43-33 winner over Edgewood Thursday night in Royse City. Hughes Springs ends its season at 6-5.
The Raiders took over near mid-field following a defensive stop and on their first offensive play Ballard ran 49 yards for a touchdown. Jose Cerda added the extra point to make it 7-0.
The Raiders scored again with 1:16 left to play in the first quarter hooking up on a 25 yard pass from Starling to Breyon Thurman.
Thurman hauled in the pass near the right sideline and quickly turned up field, finding the end zone.
Hughes Springs drove the length of the field on its next possession with a 16-play drive that stalled out at the Raiders 5-yard line. The Mustangs fumbled the snap on an attempted field goal and turned the ball over near the 20-yard line.
The Raiders offense took advantage of the defensive stand and capitalized with a five-play, 65-yard touchdown drive. Starling found receiver D.J. Hicks coming out of the backfield and Hicks raced to the left sideline on his way to the touchdown, giving the Raiders a 21-0 lead.
The Mustangs put together another long drive moving the ball down to the 12-yard line, going 63 yards on nine plays. A grounding penalty pushed the Mustangs back to the Raiders' 33 and an attempted pass on fourth-and-long was intercepted at the goal line by Kevin Jones.
West Rusk scored two third quarter touchdowns with Starling connecting on passes from 29 and 16 yards. With 8:33 left in the third Hicks broke loose from the defense on a seam route down the middle of the field and Starling was able to put the pass in his arms in stride for the 29-yard score. Later in the period, Jones hauled in a 16-yard pass on a fade route down the left sideline reaching over the defender in the end zone to secure the grab.
Hughes Springs got on the scoreboard midway through the fourth quarter following a fumble recovery. Gabe Dubose ran in the touchdown from 1-yard out to finish the five play drive.
Defensively for the Raiders, Joe Wright and Jacob Waller (2) each had fumble recoveries and Jones had an interception. Matthew Davidson and Brandon Osteen each had sacks in the game and Jones, Vaughn Liedtke, and Cameron Richmond had tackles for loss. Davidson and Darrien Johnson both forced fumbles for West Rusk.
West Rusk 35, Hughes Springs 7
At Lobo Stadium
Hughes Springs 0 0 0 7 – 7
West Rusk 14 7 14 0 – 35
WR- Nick Ballard 49 run (Jose Cerda kick good), 9:44.
WR- Breyon Thurman 25 pass from Dee Starling (Cerda kick good), 1:16.
WR- DJ Hicks 65 pass from Starling (Cerda kick good), 3:26.
WR- Hicks 29 pass from Starling (Cerda kick good), 8:33.
WR- Kevin Jones 16 pass from Starling (Cerda kick good), 4:51.
HS- Gabe Dubose 1 run (Raphael Guilherme kick good), 6:39.