Big Blue Badgered
The uninspired Tigers needed a short fourth quarter touchdown pass and then watched as a possible game winning field goal fell inches short before breathing a sigh of relief and then running away like a thief in the night with a 7-6 come-from-behind victory over a game Lampasas squad Friday night at Tiger Field in the 2009 home opener.
"It's disappointing," said a visibly upset Rockdale Coach Jeff Miller after the game. "Maybe it's an eyeopener for all of us.
"It taught us a lesson without costing us a win. It was a battle all night long. Lampasas fought and played a little harder than we thought they would. They deserved to win."
Big Blue does start the year at 2-0 for the second consecutive season and only the third time in the past 13 years and has won 13 of the last 15 regular season games.
Since that shutout, the Tigers have gone 11-3 in the regular season.
Lampasas, which has lost 21 of its last 22 games and had halted a 20-game losing streak last week, stands 1-1 on the season.
While both teams chugged into halftime without putting a single point on the scoreboard, it was Lampasas who finally found the end zone with 44 seconds left in the third quarter as Edward Grant pushed over right tackle from the three-yard line to make it 6-0.
Rockdale got the message and on the Tigers' next possession, they drove 76 yards on 12 plays in just 2 minutes, 30 seconds, culminating when a wide-open Brandon Gibbs cradled in a pass from Joe Sanders to knot the game 6-6.
On a critical fourth-and-eight Sanders had to scramble out of trouble to find Gibbs in the back of the end zone on a heads up play by both players.
Waylon Boyd then punched the Tigers ahead with his 33rd straight extra point for a 7-6 advantage with 9:57 remaining to be played.
Big Blue was still faced with the task of keeping the Badgers and their clock-chewing offense out of the end zone, because the Tigers didn't know if they were going to see the ball again.
Following the Rockdale score, Lampasas drove from its own 32-yard line to the Rockdale 26 where on fourth-and-five, Badger Coach Joey McQueen chose to try a 43-yard field goal instead of going for the first down.
While attempting to run out the clock with 5:26 left, Rockdale was unable to generate a first down and was forced to punt and the Badgers had yet another chance to steal the game.
However, the Tigers' stout defense didn't let them get any closer than the 48 and after the ball went over, were able to finally run out the clock.
Big Blue struggled mightily against a far-more enthusiastic Lampasas team that didn't give the Tigers an inch of real estate.
Sanders misfired on 18 of 25 passes with just two completions in the second half for 109 yards.
Several of those misfires were due to mishandled balls by his receiving corps that included two dropped touchdown passes.
"There was a lack of execution in our passing game," Miller said. "And for us to be successful this season, we're going to need to throw a lot. We missed receivers, our receivers ran poor routes, we hurried our throws.
Miller praised his defense for keeping the Badgers out of the end zone, led again by senior defensive tackle Logan David who stacked up 17 tackles despite playing with a broken hand.
"They found a weakness and they were able to chew out some yards, but our defense played an extremely good football game."
TIGER SEASON LEADERS
Rushing—Brooks 11-143 2 TD; Sanders 13-80 1 TD; Chelf 16-63 1 TD; Dixon 11-47; Peters 4-35; Wright 1-(-1).
Passing—Sanders 17-39-0, 264 yards, 2 TD; Wright 1-3-1, 49 yards, 1 TD.
Receiving— G ib bs 5 - 55 1TD ; DeBault 3 - 85; Mynar 2- 67 1TD; Elliott 2-28; Sanders 1- 49 1TD; Torres 1-10; White 1-10; Dixon 1-5; Brooks 1-3; Chelf 1-1.
Tackles—David, L. 30, Burrough 20, David, D. 19, Elliott 15, Estrada 15, Mynar 15, Clark 14. Lampasas Rockdale 12 First downs 17 53-215 Rushes-yards 32-171 0-4-0 Passes 7-26-1 0 Passing yards 109 215 Total offense 280 2-35 Punts 1-27 4-1 Fumbles-lost 2-1 5-60 Penalties-yards 7-60
Third quarter LAMPASAS—Edward Grant 3 run (snap fumbled)
Fourth quarter ROCKDALE—Brandon Gibbs 10 pass from Joe Sanders (Waylon Boyd kick)
The Leaders RUSHING—ROCKDALE: Brooks 9 -49, Sanders 9-46, Dixon 5-44, Chelf 9-32. LAM: Grant 14-82, Perkins 16-81. PASSING—ROCKDALE: Sanders 7-25-0, 109 yards TD; Wright 0-1-1. LAM: Perkins 0-4-0, 0 yards. RECEIVING—ROCKDALE: Gibbs 3-38, 1TD, Debault 1-39, Mynar 1-20, Elliott 1-11, Chelf 1-1. TACKLES—David, L. 17, Burrough 10.
WL WL PtsOpp Rockdale 0 0 2 0 49 26 Navasota 0 0 2 0 75 20 Taylor 0 0 2 0 97 28 Madisonville 0 0 2 0 35 28 Caldwell 0 0 1 1 95 50 Cameron 0 0 1 1 65 63 Rudder 0 0 0 1 6 25
Last week—Rockdale 7, Lampasas 6; Gatesville 35, Cameron 27; Taylor 46, Manor 28; Caldwell 69, Shepard 22; Navasota 28, Palestine 20, Cleveland 25, Bryan Rudder 6.
TIGER SEASON RESULTS (2-0)
Rockdale 42, Llano 20 Rockdale 7, Lampasas 6 at Marlin Leander Rouse Cameron at Madisonville Bryan Rudder at Navasota Caldwell at Taylor