len Rose didn’t just slide into the District 7-3A driver’s seat last Friday, they conquered it with authority.

Chase Evatt and a dominant defensive effort led Glen Rose to a 42-7 whipping of Gatesville, making the Tigers the first team in the league to clinch a playoff spot and giving them sole possession of first place.

“It was a critical win for us,” said Glen Rose head coach Tommy Dunn. “We control our own destiny for a district title and we’re in the playoffs no matter what.”

If the Tigers were feeling the pressure of a big time contest, they certainly didn’t show it early.

On the second play of the game, Graham Noell scooped up a loose ball for the first of seven Hornet turnovers.

Glen Rose came out a little rusty offensively, but appeared to catch a break when Colt Plaster’s quick punt bounced off the chest of the Hornet return man and into the waiting arms of Kevin Brooks on the Hornet 12 yard line.

The play would be disregarded when the back judge mistakenly ruled it an incomplete pass, then forced the teams to replay the down. The fourth down replay ended in a touchback, giving Jake Truss and the Hornet offense the ball on their own 20.

Truss hit Dexter Knox on the first play for a 12-yard gain, but the Tiger defense held its  ground the next three plays and forced a punt.

Evatt struck for the first of his three touchdowns following the possession exchange.

Virtually untouched, Evatt took the inside handoff right through the heart of the Hornets’ defense for a 59-yard touchdown. Tanner Tongate knocked the extra point through the uprights for a 7-0 Tiger lead.

Gatesville answered quickly when Truss scrambled away from the Tiger defensive line and found Dominque Moore behind the Glen Rose secondary for a 61-yard pitch-and-catch.

After an onside kick attempt that went for negative two yards – yes a kickoff actually went backwards – Evatt struck again by breaking off a 37-yard touchdown run.

“Those first two times he carried the ball, he hit the hole just right and got away untouched. The offensive line did a great job,” Dunn said. “(Gatesville) was protecting against the pass and he busted it, plus the receivers blocked good, too. Ty (Taylor) had a big block downfield on that second run.”

The Tiger defense took over from there, forcing a punt and five turnovers on Gatesville’s next six possessions.

Evatt and Colt Plaster, meanwhile, led the Glen Rose offense up and down the field to make it a rout.

Plaster ran for two scores and passed for another while Evatt tacked on another TD.

“When we came out and scored early like we did, everything fell into place,” Dunn said. “They couldn’t find anything that worked for them, and everything we tried worked for us. It was just one of those nights.”

Evatt rushed for a season-high 154 yards while scoring three times on 15 carries. He now has 545 yards for the season.

Plaster rushed for only 17 yards on five trips but scored twice on the ground while going 9-12 through the air.

Plaster’s passing efforts went almost exclusively through Ty Taylor, who hauled in eight receptions for 119 of the quarterback’s 128 yards. Taylor scored on a two-yard TD catch, while Dylan Rodriguez had the only reception that didn’t go Taylor’s way.

Kevin Brooks filled in admirably for the injured Shelby Junge, leading the Tiger defense with 10 tackles. Collin Lane reeled off eight stops and remains the team’s season leader with 67 tackles.

Seth Mann, Graham Noell and Dylan Rodriguez added six stops each. Noell had a team-high three sacks.

The Glen Rose defensive line dominated the line of scrimmage, allowing just two Gatesville rushing yards on 25 carries.

The Tigers look to lock up at least a share of the 7-3A championship a week early when they host pre-season district favorite China Spring this week.

“China Spring comes in with its back against the wall. They have to play us then Gatesville. If they lose both of those games they don’t make the playoffs,” Dunn said.  “But we want to finish strong and beat China Spring and Hillsboro.”

Kickoff at Tiger Stadium Friday is set for 7:30 p.m.