Wright place, Wright time
He thought his team could simply line up and push Cameron around. They did.
Welcome back, smash mouth football.
Using an unbalanced line with two tight ends and the power- I formation along with a trio of sparkling plays from Tyler Wright, Big Blue manhandled the Yoemen 41-21 in the 55th edition of the Battle of the Bell and District 24-3A opener.
The victory in front of the usual overf low crowd at Tiger Stadium on a perfect night for football, allowed Big Blue to start the season at 5-0 for the first time since 1997 when the Tigers began 9-0.
It is Rockdale's first district opening win since a 22-21 defeat of Hutto in 2004.
"The guys will enjoy this," Miller said. "We need to keep the bell here a while.
"But, they know what it's all about. Just because we won the bell doesn't mean we've won anything else. I remind them Cameron won last year and stayed at home, so it's not over."
"I told the guys it's just one game," said new Cameron Coach Rick Rhoades, participating in his first Bell contest. "We have to put that behind us and move on."
The Tigers have won two of the last three contests, but Cameron (3-2, 0-1) still holds a considerable lead in the series, 38-17.
Rockdale's convincing victory over the Yoemen continued the recent trend in the Bell series of blow out winners.
Si nc e Ro ckd a le's 25-22 win in 2003, the ensuing five games haven't been close. In 2006 Cameron set a series record by whipping the Tigers 50-12, then the next season the Tigers returned the favor in a 43-21 defeat.
The Yoemen won 41-28 last season after jumping out 28- 0.
This senior class has become the first class to have possession of the bell twice since 1977.
While it was a night the seniors will never forget, it was a junior that sparked the team to victory.
Wright—who's most important job on the team is as backup quarterback—came up with huge plays on both offense and defense to keep the pesky Yoemen from taking the Bell back across the river.
As the first half was coming to a close with six seconds remaining and the Tigers sitting at the Cameron 43-yard line, they attempted a Hail Mary pass in the end zone and Wright soared above five Yoemen defenders and two of his teammates to snare the bomb from quarterback Joe Sanders as time expired.
The elated Tigers sprinted into the locker room with a 21-7 advantage against a shell shocked Cameron team.
"Worked just like we drew it up," joked Miller. "He's another one of those kids that does things right. We can always count on him."
"It was big," Rhoades said. "Give him credit, he leaped up and pulled that in between two or three defenders there."
It was Wright's first reception of the season and it couldn't have been any more timely.
In the second half, it was Wright's play on defense that exhibited perfect timing.
After Cameron took the second half kickoff 58 yards for a score on Steven Townsend and Brandon Freeman's second touchdown connection to cut the Tigers' lead to 21-14, the Yoemen were threatening to tie the game after a Rockdale punt.
Tow nsend drove Cameron down to the Rockdale 37 before Wright made a leaping interception in front of Yoeman receiver Jack Rhoades.
The Tigers failed to take advantage of the turnover, stalling on their own 35, but Sanders boomed a 65-yard punt that pinned Cameron down at their own one-yard line.
The Rockdale defense stepped up again and forced a Yoe punt, which set up Daniel Brooks' second touchdown of the evening, from 18 yards away, to make it 27-14 with 11:32 left to be played.
Wright put a stop to the next Cameron drive when he picked off Townsend for the second time after the Yoemen had marched down to the 21. It was his fourth interception of the year.
"He really studies the game," Miller said. "He plays centerfield with a quarterback mentality. He knows what the other guy is thinking."
The Tigers robbed Townsend three times on the night after Derek Mynar used his 6-foot-4 reach to snare a pass at the line of scrimmage at the nine-yard line that set up Sanders' third touchdown of the evening to make it 41-14 with 3:05 remaining.
Townsend was 21-for-43 for 204 yards with three touchdown tosses to Freeman that were offset by the three picks.
While former Rockdale player Dookie Wells ran wild against the Tigers in last year's Cameron win (217 yards), it was a little different story this time around as he was hounded by the Tiger defense and limited to 35 yards on just eight carries.
The Yoemen managed just 58 yards rushing on 20 carries.
"The thing about it is we got behind and had to play catchup," Rhoades said. "We felt we had to throw and when we do that, they can bring the house."
Sophomore Daniel Brooks used his game-breaking speed to lead the Tigers in rushing again with 166 yards and two scores on 23 carries.
TIGER SEASON LEADERS
Rushing—Brooks 52-538 8 TD; Chelf 50-320 3 TD; Dixon 36-205 1 TD; Sanders 39-142 4 TD; Peters 7-55; Elliott 1-9, Farley 1-4; Wright 3-(-3).
Passing—Sanders 29-64-1, 461 yards, 4 TD; Wright 3-7-1, 84 yards, 1 TD; Chelf 1-1-0, 17 yards.
Receiving—Elliott 6 -111 1TD; Mynar 5-132 1TD; Gibbs 5-55 1TD; DeBault 4 -90; Wright 2- 65 1TD; Brooks 2-10; Sanders 1-49 1TD; Torres 1-10; White 1-10; Dixon 3-27; Farley 1-2, Chelf 1-1, Lewis 1-0.
Tackles—David, L. 53, David, D. 36, Burrough 35, Elliott 33, Clark 25, Estrada 28, Mynar 20, Montoya 19.
TIGER SEASON RESULTS (5-0)
Rockdale 42, Llano 20
Rockdale 7, Lampasas 6
Rockdale 7, Marlin 2
Rockdale 54, Leander Rouse 0
Rockdale 41, Cameron 21
14 First downs 19
20-58 Rushes-yards 52-282
21-43-3 Passes 6-8-0
204 Passing yards 105
262 Total offense 387
3-38 Punts 5-38
1-0 Fumbles-lost 1-0
6-41 Penalties-yards 10-83
Score by quarters
Cameron 0 7 7 7—21
Rockdale 0 21 0 20—41
ROCKDALE—Daniel Brooks 71 run (Waylon
Boyd kick) 10:26
CAMERON—Brandon Freeman 31 pass
from Steven Townsend (Matt Chandler
ROCKDALE—Joe Sanders 1 run (Boyd
ROCKDALE—Tyler Wright 43 pass from
sanders (Boyd Kick) :00
CAMERON—Freeman 2 pass from Townsend
(Chandler kick) 10:15
ROCKDALE—Brooks 18 run (kick failed)
ROCK DALE—Sanders 12 run ( Boyd
ROCKDALE—Sanders 2 run (Boyd kick)
CAMERON—Freeman 10 pass from Townsend
(Chandler kick) :13
RUSHING—ROCKDALE: Brooks 23-166
2 TD, Chelf 9-49, Dixon 11-46, Sanders
10-10 3 TD. CAMERON: Wells 8-35.
PASSING—ROCKDALE: Sanders 6-10-0,
105 yards, 1 TD. CAMERON: Townsend
21-43-3, 204 yards, 3 TD.
RECEIVING—ROCKDALE: Wright 2-65
1 TD, Mynar 2-19, Elliott 1-17, Dixon
1-4. CAMERON: Rhoades 6 -90, Freeman
TACKLES—Estrada 8, Burrough 7, Gibbs
7, David, L. 6, David, D. 5, Elliott 4.
Last week—Rockdale 41, Cameron 21; Navasota 41, Br yan Rudder 14; Caldwell 21, Madisonville 14; Taylor was idle.
This week—Rockdale at Madisonville; Caldwell at Bryan Rudder; Navasota is idle; Taylor at Cameron.