LUFKIN — Dylan Gale passing for 252 yards and four touchdowns to lead White Oak to a 55-36 victory over Newton Friday night at Abe Martin Stadium. The Roughnecks, who will play in the fourth round for the first time since 1970, scored on every possession.
The Roughnecks (12-1) advance to the Class 2A, Division I Region III finals to face Franklin, a 28-14 winner over Godley.
What started out as an offensive shootout, ended in Newton being unable to slow down the high-powered White Oak offense, and the Roughneck defense making enough plays to pull off the upset against the perennial state power.
The first 14 minutes was an offensive display as neither team was able to stop the opponent on the first six drives of the contest.
Newton chewed up four minutes of the clock on its opening possession, including its first fourth-down conversion, scoring on a 22-yard run by Brandon Johnson. The Eagles missed a two-point attempt to lead 6-0.
White Oak needed only 26 seconds to respond as Riley Lakin busted loose for a 43-yard scoring run.
The Eagles pounded on the ground again on their next possession and converted another fourth down. The drive ended with a 7-yard run to the end zone by Calun Foster.
White Oak answered again, this time with a 5-yard run by Lakin to regain the lead.
Facing fourth down for the third time in the first half, Newton quarterback Roney Elam avoided a sack and went 49 yards for the score to make it 20-14.
After the kickoff, the Roughnecks needed just one play to get the score back in their favor as Gale found Jansen McCurdy for a 68-yard strike.
White Oak stopped Newton on fourth down on the next drive, and when Newton jumped offside, Gale took advantage of the free play and threw it up for McCurdy, who wrestled the ball away from the defender and went 51 yards down to the 1-yard-line. On the third straight run up the middle, Gale was able to get in the end zone to push the lead to 28-20.
The Roughnecks then forced a Newton fumble, and Josh Benson recovered it for White Oak at the Eagle 21-yard-line. That set up a 2-yard pass from Gale to Hayden Nichols on a jump ball in the end zone to make it 35-20 in favor of the Roughnecks.
Newton moved the ball down the field on its last drive of the half, getting to the 2-yard-line. After a 5-yard penalty, the Eagles burned their final timeout, and on the next play, Josh Hampton sacked Elam to end the half.
Hampton was also a factor later in the game when Newton's Foster was injured late in the third quarter and landed on Hampton. Hampton stayed still until the training staff could tend to Foster and get him on a stretcher and in an ambulance following a 13-minute delay.
Foster finished with 99 yards on 17 carries and a touchdown. Johnson led the Eagles with 167 yards on 21 carries and two touchdowns, including a 51-yarder in the third quarter to make the score 38-28 moments after Jack Rogers' first field goal – a 22-yarder.
The Eagles (12-1) rushed for 406 yards on 61 carries, but the balanced White Oak offense and opportune defense was enough to decide the game.
The Roughnecks allowed more than 14 points in a game for only the third time this season, but scoring 55 made up for it.
McCurdy caught four passes for 199 yards and two touchdowns, including a 69-yarder early in the fourth quarter. McCurdy also intercepted a Newton pass deep in White Oak territory. Lakin rushed for 179 yards and two scores on 32 carries.