DENTON — The Yellow Jackets needed one more victory over the final three games to clinch a playoff spot.
They got it out of the way as quickly as possible.
By the middle of the second quarter against Denton Braswell, Denison could simply count down the minutes to the victory that sent them to the postseason.
Bubba Roberts scored three rushing touchdowns and the Jackets rolled up 524 yards in a 56-0 win over Braswell in District 5-5A action at C.H. Collins Athletic Complex on Friday night.
The Yellow Jackets (7-1, 4-0) clinched back-to-back playoff berths for the first time since 2008-09 and have won at least seven games in a season for the first time since 2009.
“Back before the season you set all these goals,” Denison head coach Chad Rogers said. “You have the box and you're ready to check them off. Win the first game. Win the first district game. Now you get to check off that one.”
Denison needs one more win or a Rider loss to clinch the top seed for the Division II bracket.
“We came into this game knowing that's what we were striving for,” said Roberts, who had 16 carries for 89 yards. “Ever since last year, we knew we had to work harder. That's the difference. Teamwork and brotherhood.”
It also sets up a showdown this week with Denton Ryan and the winner will gain sole possession of first place and at least a share of the district title.
Austin Emery finished 7-of-11 passing for 157 yards and 83 more on 10 carries, Darrian Butler totaled 10 carries for 77 yards and a score and Kenny Gaffney added a pair of rushing touchdowns.
“We're deeper at running back than any other position,” Rogers said. “Once we get in a rhythm, and then start throwing different formations out there, it can be fun to watch. We did what we were supposed to do.”
Denton Braswell (1-7, 1-3) finished with just 97 yards — including 50 on 35 carries — and is on the brink of elimination from the playoffs. If the Bengals lose to Rider on Thursday, both Rider and Sherman clinch the last two postseason spots.
“Our defensive line is unbelievable,” Rogers said. “They've got some good looking kids, were coming off a big win and I think we were able to take away some of what they had done well and it snowballed from there.”
The Jackets scored on their first two possessions of the third quarter to close out the scoring. Braswell had its best chance at breaking the shutout to open the second half thanks to a 23-yard catch by Jaeden Johnson as the Bengals made it to the Denison 34-yard line. But quarterback Greyson Thompson was stopped well short of the first down and the Jackets took over at their 30 following the fourth-down tackle.
Twelve plays later Gaffney's second-effort from the two pushed the lead to 49-0.
The backups handled the next series and Butler gained all 60 yards, including his first varsity touchdown with a seven-yard run out on the final snap of the third quarter.
“They played hard. They don't look at the scoreboard,” Rogers said. “I want people to look at our team and not be able to tell what the score is. It should never change.”
The Jackets had put the game away by the middle of the second quarter and finished the first half by scoring on six of their eight possessions. The two that did not end in touchdowns were when Denison went for it on fourth down in the red zone in the first quarter.
Braswell managed just 63 yards on its first eight series with nearly half of that coming on the final drive before the break. The Bengals had just four plays in Denison territory.
Roberts closed the first-half scoring with an eight-yard touchdown run with 2:09 left in quarter. It was Denison's longest drive at 80 yards.
Most of the time the Jackets started in Braswell territory.
Roberts opened the game with a 43-yard kickoff return to the Bengals 42 and four snaps later he scored on a six-yard run.
The Jackets turned it over on downs the next two drives before Gaffney's 35-yard punt return to the 10-yard line. DeCurious Smith scored on the first play, tiptoeing down the right sideline to reach the end zone.
At the end of the first quarter the Jackets held a 189 to minus-two yardage advantage.
Dalton Souther's 39-yard catch propelled the next Denison possession and Gaffney punched it in from the one for a 21-0 lead less than a minute into the second quarter.
Javen Stewart recovered a fumble near midfield and two plays player Braydon Roberts, who led the way with three catches for 63 yards, got behind his man for a 44-yard TD catch.
Another short drive was capped by Bubba Roberts' six-yard touchdown run in the middle of the quarter.