Snakes rattle and roll
Too much Kye Hildreth and not enough enthusiasm cost 10th-ranked Rockdale a shot at an undefeated season in a lopsided 41-13 loss to No. 12 Navasota at Rattler Stadium.
The defeat drops the Tigers to 7-1 on the season and 3-1 in District 24- 3A play and into second place just a half-game ahead of the Rattlers (6-1, 2-1).
Caldwell, which took the week off and which the Tigers face Friday, stand alone at the top at 5-1 overall and 3-0 in district.
Rockdale, which had risen to No. 10 in the Associated Press statewide poll and as high as No. 5 in two others, will likely disappear from sight after the loss.
"They shocked us," said Rockdale Coach Jeff Miller. "They were very explosive and we came out really flat. We didn't play very well and the reason we didn't play is because of what they did to us. They outplayed us on both sides of the ball.
"They took it to us, there's no other way to put it."
"I was talking to Coach Miller this week and he said he was concerned about playing because of our loss last week," said Navasota Coach Lee Fedora. "He thought we'd be ticked, but we never made this into a grudge match. We forgot about last week and just focused on what we had to do this week."
It was Navasota's fourth straight win over Rockdale in a series that dates back to 1932. The Tigers have not defeated the Rattlers since 1965.
Navasota was coming off a surprising 14-0 loss to Caldwell when they were ranked No. 5 in the state in Class 3A.
The chances of them being shutout Friday evening were slim and ended on the second play of the game when Hildreth sprinted through the Tigers defensive line and didn't stop until 80 yards later when he pulled up in the end zone for a 7-0 Rattler lead with just 21 seconds ticked off the clock.
Hildreth, a 6-foot-1, 170-pound senior, ran for 181 yards and three scores, while also throwing for 161 more and another score for 342 total yards.
"He's pretty phenomenal," Miller said. "We had him bottled up several times, but he was still able to get around the corner. We are not the fastest team around, so if he gets into our secondary, that's the danger with him for us."
The Tigers tried to answer back on their first possession, but the drive died at the Navasota 10- yard line when Rockdale quarterback Joe Sanders was stopped a yard short on fourth-and-two.
"We had a chance to tie it, but that's been a problem for us all year," Miller said. "Our red-zone offense just can't seem to score."
Unfortunately for the Tigers, Navasota wasn't suffering from that type of malady and quickly made it 14-0 as soon as they got their hands on the ball again.
The Rattlers were a little more methodical this time around, taking 5 minutes, 25 seconds and 11 snaps to cover 90 yards, culminating when Hildreth started right, then shifted left and sliced right from seven yards out for the second of his three scores.
The distr ict's top defense allowed 442 yards to the district's top offensive team which entered the game putting up 443 yards and 28 points a game.
Coming in, the Tigers had allowed just 14 points in the first half all season. Friday, Navasota had posted 27 by halftime.
They had also given up just 56 points in seven previous games.
Rockdale didn't score its first touchdown until there was 2:03 left in the first half, when Sanders capped off a 12-play, 80-yard trek with a one-yard sneak to pull the score to 27-7.
The Tigers were playing without three offensive starters in receiver Derrick Mynar, lineman Dillan Schnerr and receiver J.B. Debault.
Mynar is out for the year with a knee injury, while Schnerr was suffering from the swine flu and Debault with a sore shoulder.
Sophomore Daniel Brooks— Rockdale's leading rusher—saw limited action after coming back from a hip pointer that kept him out of last week's game against Bryan Rudder.
Brooks carried the ball just six times for 20 yards and only once in the second half.
Greg Chelf, coming off a career-best 189 yards against Bryan Rudder, carried most of the offensive load with 86 yards on 18 carries.
Sanders, whose last two passes were picked off by Rattler defensive back Alfon Taylor, completed 5-of-15 for 102 yards.
The Tigers were bitten hard by the injury bug for the second straight week as starting linebacker Anthony Montoya has been lost with a sprained MCL and will begin rehab.
"We had big plans," said Miller. "This kind of put a kink in those plans, but you have to forget about it and can't linger on it. You are going to face adversity.
"It's unrealistic to think anyone would go undefeated. We just have to rebound. We still have big plans."
TIGER SEASON LEADERS
Rushing—Chelf 107-681 4 TD; Brooks 71-616 8 TD; Dixon 66-313 2 TD; Sanders 68-199 6 TD; Peters 7-55; Elliott 1-9, Farley 1-4; Wright 3-(-3).
Passing—Sanders 46-106-5, 680 yards, 5 TD; Wright 10-19-2, 198 yards, 3 TD; Chelf 1-1-0, 17 yards.
Receiving—Elliott 12-164 1TD; Gibbs 10-123 1TD; Mynar 5-132 1TD; Debault 4-90; Wright 3-111 2TD; Brooks 2-10; Sanders 2-109 2TD; Torres 5-76; Estrada 2-6; White 1-10; Dixon 4-31; Bishop 1-2, Farley 1-2, Chelf 2-(-1), Lewis 2-5 1TD.
Tackles—David, L. 68, David, D. 59, Elliott 55, Burrough 49, Estrada 41, Clark 34, Mynar 30, Wright 30. Rockdale Navasota 16 First downs 16 42-127 Rushes-yards 49-301 8-19-3 Passes 9-18-0 128 Passing yards 129 255 Total offense 442 3-29 Punts 4-30 1-0 Fumbles-lost 3-0 3-26 Penalties-yards 7-45
Score by quarters Rockdale 0 7 6 0—13 Navasota 14 13 7 7—41
First quarter NAV—Kye Hildreth 80 run (Cesar Barron kick) 11:39 NAV—Hildreth 7 run (Barron kick) 1:01
Second quarter NAV—Antoin Burrell 5 run (Barron kick) 6:52 ROCKDALE—Joe Sanders 1 run (Waylon Boyd kick) 2:03 NAV—Aaron Collins 62 pass from Hildreth (kick failed) :57
Third quarter ROCKDALE—Terral Dixon 7 run (kick failed) 4:58 NAV—Hildreth 44 run (Barron kick) 2:10
Fourth quarter NAV—Kesnick Jones 6 run (Barron kick) 7:45
The Leaders RUSHING—ROCKDALE: Chelf 18 - 86, Brooks 5-20, Dixon 9-19, Sanders 10-2. NAVASOTA: Hildreth 14-181 3TD PASSING—ROCKDALE: Sanders 5-15-2, 102 yards, Wright 3-4-1, 26 yards. NAVASOTA: Hildreth 8-15-1, 161 yards. RECEIVING—ROCKDALE: Elliott 3-47, Torres 2-50, Chelf 1-25, Estrada 2-6. NAVASOTA: Collins 2-90 1TD. TACKLES—Elliott 9, Estrada 8, David, D. 7, Burrough 5, David, L. 5, Wright 4.
WL WL PtsOpp Caldwell 3 0 5 1 214 83 Rockdale 3 1 7 1 201 97 Navasota 2 1 6 1 208 75 Madisonville 2 2 4 4 150 174 Cameron 1 2 4 3 209 177 Taylor 1 2 4 3 215 179 Rudder 0 4 2 5 121 196
Last week—Navasota 41, Rockdale 13; Caldwell was idle; Madisonville 25, Cameron 19; Taylor 27, Rudder 25.
This week—Caldwell at Rockdale; Bryan Rudder at Cameron; Navasota at Taylor; Madisonville is idle.
TIGER SEASON RESULTS (7-1) Rockdale 42, Llano 20 Rockdale 7, Lampasas 6 Rockdale 7, Marlin 2 Rockdale 54, Leander Rouse 0 Rockdale 41, Cameron 21 Rockdale 9, Madisonville 7 Rockdale 28, Bryan Rudder 0 Navasota 41, Rockdale 13