ROYSE CITY — There’s nothing like a decisive victory that’ll have songbirds landing on shoulders, dancing animals, and bright sunshine like in all those classic Walt Disney cartoons.

ROYSE CITY — There’s nothing like a decisive victory that’ll have songbirds landing on shoulders, dancing animals, and bright sunshine like in all those classic Walt Disney cartoons.

After a forgettable fortnight both on and off the field, Sherman was finally due for a heart-lifting splash of technicolor in its outlook.

The bottom line, of course, is the Bearcats remain very much alive in the District 13-4A playoff race, and that’s turned all those frowns upside down.

"We’re going to enjoy that one," head coach Gary Kinne said after a 41-17 win over Royse City on Friday night. "It’s been a while, and we needed to get a win. We usually have a 24-hour rule (to celebrate), but we’ll probably do 48 on that one. We’ll enjoy it for a couple of days."

The win keeps Sherman (3-4, 2-2) in a three-way tie for fourth place with Lovejoy, which travels to Bearcat Stadium next Friday, and McKinney North, which the Bearcats have already beaten.

"Huge game at our place," Kinne said. "You want to go to the playoffs, you’ve got to win Friday night. You win Friday night, you’ve got a great chance to go."

Senior Tre’ Mask rushed for 171 yards and three touchdowns and took over for an injured Case Rolen at quarterback in the second half.

"I had to produce," Mask said after the game. "Coach Kinne said this team is going to run and it has to go through me. I just stepped up to the plate tonight."

Mask scored on touchdowns of 23, nine and six yards as Sherman built a 24-10 halftime lead. His second touchdown run put Sherman ahead for good in the second quarter.

"We just have to give him space," Kinne said. "When we give him space, he’s going to do that. If we don’t, it’s hard to create. We got him in space, we got him some creases, and boy, he played well."

Austin Roan added two field goals, including a 49-yarder with plenty of leg and a 39-yarder that doinked off the crossbar and through.

Rolen passed to Jason Chavez for a score, junior Tyson Jones added 102 hard-nosed yards rushing, and junior Jakendrick Burns finished with 67 rushing yards and a late TD on only five carries as the Bearcats racked up 339 yards on the ground.

"Our running backs blocked for each other and they all ran the ball well," Kinne said. "I was very pleased with that."

Senior fullback Alex Ramsey led Royse City (1-6, 1-3) with 131 yards and two touchdowns, including a 48-yard run on a fake punt that briefly tied the game at 10-10.

Sophomore quarterback Courtlin Vance added 102 rushing yards in place of injured starter Jackson Watts, who left the game on Royse City’s second possession.

The Bulldogs finished with 376 total yards, but 196 of those yards came on four big plays of 40 yards or more.

"We’ve got our confidence back up," senior cornerback Ja’Quay Pough said. "We don’t feel unstoppable, but we feel like we can do some damage out there."

The Bearcats needed an early score to set the tone, and they got it on their first drive, moving 74 yards on eight plays with Mask going up the middle for the initial score.

After a Bulldog punt, Sherman went to work again. After losing six yards on a saved fumble, the Bearcats added three points on Roan’s long line drive through the uprights to make it 10-0.

As usual against the Bearcats, however, Royse City refused to go away quietly.

On his first play after Watts was knocked out, Vance threw deep to Jake Glisch for 63 yards, with Jor’Don Jones making a touchdown-saving stop. That was important, because the Bulldogs had to settle for a Blaine Hickman field goal.

Next, the Bearcats were forced into the first of only two punts all night, and it appeared they were going to get the ball back on a Royse City punt. Instead, it was a fake, and Ramsey took it 48 yards untouched to knot the score at 10 with 7:47 left in the first half.

That would be the Bulldogs’ last hurrah as the Bearcats scored the game’s next 24 points.

Helped by a strong kick return by Kiaron McKinney, Sherman answered with a 58-yard drive that was closed out when Mask followed his blockers to the end zone with 4:37 left, giving the Bearcats the lead for good.

The ensuing kick return was fumbled and recovered by Sherman’s Christian Barajas at the Royse City 28-yard line. Five plays later, Rolen threw to a wide-open Chavez for a 24-10 advantage.

The Bearcats got the ball back on downs with 55 seconds left and had a chance to add to the margin. But Rolen was hit in the backfield as he threw the ball and his body twisted, straining a groin muscle. Rolen was flagged for intentional grounding, one of 15 penalties on the night for 133 yards.

Rolen finished out the half with an interception in the back of the end zone, but was unable to come out for the second half and watched the remainder of the game on crutches.

"We don’t know, but right now, he’s day to day," Kinne said. "I think he’s going to be fine. We’ll plan like he’s playing, but we’ll see. We probably won’t know until Wednesday or Thursday."

No matter, as Mask took over at quarterback for most of the rest of the game and Sherman’s defense did the rest.

"(Playing quarterback) wasn’t anything drastic," said Mask, who routinely takes snaps in wildcat situations. "We just wanted to make sure that Case is alright to play next week."

The Bearcats added 10 more points to their total on Roan’s second field goal and on Mask’s final touchdown run with 1:28 remaining in the third quarter for a 34-10 lead.

With the Bearcat reserves starting to see action, Royse City added a late TD with 4:42 left, but Sherman’s second-team offense closed out the scoring with Burns’ first career TD.

The Bearcats still control their own playoff destiny, and the upcoming game against Lovejoy will determine whether that will continue to be the case.

"Right now we’re still indecisive on how good we know we are," Mask said. "We’ve got to come together as a team and play Friday."