Runaway to the playoffs
They were a football lifeline.
For the second straight season, the Tigers needed a victory over their rivals to earn a playoff berth and once again they made their intentions known early with a dominating 57-14 win Friday night at Memorial Stadium.
"Going 8-2 again is a great accomplishment," said Rockdale Coach Jeff Miller, "but we're not satisfied. There are five games left in the season and we want to go win them all."
Rockdale stopped a two-game losing streak and closes out the regular season with its second consecutive 8-2 season record and places second in District 24- 3A at 4-2 in a tie with Navasota, which had to defeat Madisonville to get in (and did) and behind league champion Caldwell who clipped Cameron to complete a clean sweep of the district.
WOS was the District 21 champion, while Coldspring was the District 22 runner-up.
Stark has beaten Coldspring rather handily in bi-district the past two seasons.
Caldwell is waiting on the Bridge City-Cleveland victor, while Navasota will take on the Silsbee—Huf fman-Hargrave winner as the Division I (large school) representative.
Rockdale doesn't have a ranked team on its side of the bracket, while No. 2 and defending Class 3A state champion Carthage looms for Caldwell.
In 80 meetings dating back to 1912, 57 is the most points a Rockdale team has scored on a Taylor team, going back to a 52-6 win in 1962.
It's also the most points a Rockdale team has scored since a 62-0 win over Smithville in 2002.
In taming the Ducks, Rockdale registered a string of positive standards that haven't been seen in a while, such as:
• The upcoming playoff appearance— the 20th in school history— is the third in a row and marks just the fourth time the Tigers have gone to the playoffs three years in a row (1975-77, 1997-99, 2002-04).
• While the Tigers failed to capture their first district crown since 1999, they finished second for the 13th time in history.
• The 16 Tiger victories in the past two seasons are the most since the Tigers posted 18 wins in 1998-99.
The Taylor stands and press box were abuzz with talk of the riot at Taylor High School earlier in the day at the school's pep rally, so Ducks fans may not have noticed that their team was getting beat up on the football field.
After slogging around in the first quarter with an interception and a lost fumble and finding themselves trailing 7-6, Big Blue tenderized the Ducks over the next two periods, scoring 51 unanswered points, mostly from long distance.
The Tigers scored from 39, 50, 17, 78, 27, 58 and 94 yards away in a variety of ways.
"We settled down and started doing the things we wanted to do," Miller said. "In the first half they had a good defensive scheme, so it took us a little bit of time to figure out what we were going to do."
Six different Tigers scored, led by Tyler Wright's three scores— two on pass receptions and one on a run while lining up at quarterback.
Rockdale's offense accrued just 507 yards of offense, including 383 on the ground, averaging nearly 12 yards a carry.
Daravious Peters—a senior transfer from Thrall who had just returned from three weeks of academic suspension, raced 95 yards for Big Blue's final touchdown of the evening on his only carry.
He had carried the ball eight times for 55 yards coming in.
On the strength of his 78-yard touchdown to open the second half, quarterback Joe Sanders piled up a season-high 100 yards rushing.
After his 58-yard scoring jaunt, Wright totaled 61 yards rushing.
Greg Chelf, the Tigers' leading rusher on the season, had 52 yards rushing including his 52yard score on the first play from scrimmage and did not carry the ball in the second half.
Daniel Brooks, playing full time for the first time in three weeks, also crossed the 50-yard barrier with 49 yards on 12 carries including a 27-yard touchdown, his team high ninth of the year.
Looking the shar pest he's looked all season, Sanders tossed three touchdown passes on seven completions for 124 yards.
His seven completions were consecutive and all in the second quarter after two incompletions and an interception.
He hooked up with Wright for scores from 50 and 39 yards.
Miller did have mercy on the Ducks and Rockdale did not attempt a pass in the second half and substituted liberally.
Leading 30-7 at intermission, Big Blue really cranked up the volume in the third quarter with four touchdowns and 275 yards of offense for a 57-7 lead.
"You could see the confidence in the guys," Miller said. "It is fun to see now, how high our expectations are."
Defensively, the Tigers held the Ducks to negative yardage for most of the game. They rounded up most of their 103 yards of total offense in the fourth quarter (81) against reserves.
Taylor was playing without its two leading rushers, Mark Jackson and Lorenzo Sanford.
Jackson was injured last week against Caldwell, Sanford may have been involved in the pep rally fight earlier in the day and held out of the game.
At halftime, Taylor was minus- 13 in the offense department, including minus-39 yards rushing.
The Ducks put the ball on the ground seven times with the Tigers scooping up three of them that led directly to scores.
After being shut out two games in a row, the Ducks did score their first touchdown in three weeks in the first quarter after taking advantage of Sanders' interception for a 7-6 lead.
The game showed some of the flareups of a rivalry contest as Rockdale's Steven Blythe and Taylor's Malcolm Gault were both tossed out of the contest on separate plays after unsportsmanlike conduct penalties.
Gault and the Ducks received two unsportsmanlike penalties on a kickoff after a Duck score with under eight minutes remaining to be played, which caused both teams and their coaches to enter the field of play and try to break up the scuffle.
"I've been playing with these guys since I was in the eighth grade," said senior quarterback Ricky Cobia. "It feels good to go out playing hard, we played hard and finishing our season playing together."
The Tigers were penalized 11 times for 115 yards, which kept them from visiting the end zone more than they already had.
"It was there we go again with the dumb penalties," Miller said. "We're better than that. I'm proud of how hard we played, not how smart we played."
• The eight wins gives the football program a 54-53 mark in the 2000s. One more victory would give the program a winning record for the decade.
1910s—9-6-1 1920s—32-36-4 1930s—42-45-6 1940s—32-51-3 1950s—38-44 1960s—69-36 1970s—77-36 1980s—42-58 1990s—63-42
• The Tigers avoided any injuries against Taylor and everyone should be available next week. Senior linebacker Shane Barcak (shoulder) is lost for the season. Anthony Montoya (knee) suited up but did not play just as a precaution.
• Joe Sanders' touchdown Friday gives him 28 for his career behind Blade Bassler's school record of 35. His three touchdown passes give him 12 for his career. He needs 17 yards to become just the 7th Tiger quarterback to throw for over 1,000 yards in a season. His brother Matt threw for 1,137 in 2004.
• Daravious Peters' 95-yard touchdown run is the second longest in school history next to Will Ray's 96-yard effort against Copperas Cove in 1971. Daniel Brooks had an 89-yard effort in the opener against Llano.
• The Tigers' recorded their second safety of the season when they stopped Taylor's Jacob Doss in the end zone and caused him to fumble.
• Senior Juan Estrada led the Tigers in tackles for the second week in a row with 11. The race for the season lead has tightened between brothers Logan and Derek David. Older brother Logan leads 83-82.
• Robbie Clark's Midlothian team finished 1-9 on the season to give him a 12-28 record in four years there. In his six seasons as a head coach (including two at Rockdale), Clark has fashioned a 21-40 mark. The Panthers gave up 357 points in 2009. Tiger Cross Country team 14th at regional
HUMBLE—The Rockdale cross country team placed 14th out of 21 teams at the Class 3A, Region III meet.
Lufkin Hudson, Bridge City and Huf fman a re t he st ate qualifiers out of the region.
District champion Taylor was 8th and Madisonville was 17th.
T iger i nd ividual finishes were: 34th - Jacob Gerren 18:01; 61st - Juan Rubio- 18:42; 78th - Jose Buentello - 19:18; 80th- Jose Ruelas -19:19; 125 - Francisco Romo 21:09; 138- Robert Ramos- 22:09.
TIGER SEASON LEADERS
Rushing—Chelf 119-778 5 TD; Brooks 85-669 9 TD; Dixon 71-332 2 TD; Sanders 80-298 8 TD; Peters 8-150 TD; Wright 5-58 TD; Elliott 2-8, White 1-7, Farley 1-4; David,D. 1-2; Fowler 1-(-3).
Passing—Sanders 63-136-7, 984 yards, 9 TD; Wright 10-19-2, 198 yards, 3 TD; Chelf 1-1-0, 17 yards.
Receiving—Gibbs 17-266 2 TD; Elliott 13-195 1 TD; Wright 9-246 5 TD; Mynar 5-132 1 TD; Torres 6- 82; Dixon 6-20; Debault 4-90; Chelf 3-24; Brooks 2-10; Sanders 2-109 2TD; Estrada 2-6; White 1-10; Bishop 1-2, Farley 1-2; Lewis 2-5 1TD.
Tackles—David, L. 83, David, D. 82, Elliott 66, Burrough 64, Estrada 63, Clark 52, Wright 34, Mynar 30, Montoya 29, Gibbs 26, Gadison 22, Fowler 22, Monroe 17, Diaz 13, Dixon 12, Vasquez 14, Chelf 6, Barcak 5, Peters 11, Debault 4, Bishop 3, Farley 10, Lewis 7, Torres 5.
TIGER SEASON RESULTS (8-2)
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
Caldwell 35, Rockdale 14
Rockdale 57, Taylor 14
|Score by quarters|
|Rockdale||6 24||27 0—57|
|Taylor||7 0||0 7—14|
ROCKDALE—Greg Chelf 52 run (run
TAYLOR—Sam Jirasek 15 from Ricky
Cobia (Moises Tellez kick) 5:17
ROCKDALE—Tyler Wright 39 pass from
Joe Sanders (Dixon run) 10:24
ROCKDALE—Wright 50 pass from Sanders
(Waylon Boyd kick) 5:21
ROCKDALE—Brandon Gibbs 17 pass from
Sanders (Boyd kick) 1:50
ROCKDALE—Safety, Doss tackled in end
ROCKDALE—Sanders 78 run (kick
ROCKDALE—Daniel Brooks 27 run (Boyd
ROCKDALE—Wright 58 run (Boyd kick)
ROCKDALE—Daravious Peters 95 run
(Boyd kick) 1:13
TAYLOR—Jacob Doss 2 run (Tellez kick)
RUSHING—ROCKDALE: Sanders 6-100,
Peters 1-95, Wright 2-61, Chelf 3-55,
Brooks 12-49, Dixon 4-17, White 1-7,
Fowler 2- (-3), David, D. 1-2. TAYLOR:
PASSING—ROCKDALE: Sanders 7-12-1,
124 yards, 3 TD. TAYLOR: Cobia 6-15-0,
RECEIVING—ROCKDALE: Gibbs 3-36,
Wright 2-87, Torres 1-6, Dixon 1- (-5).
TAYLOR: Jirasek 3-13.
TACKLES —Estrada 11, Burrough 9,
David, D. 8, Vasquez 8, Farley 7, Morrow
7, Fowler 6, Peters 6, Hall 5, Elliott 4.
Last week—Rockdale 57, Taylor; 14 Navasota 21, Madisonville 16; Caldwell 35, Cameron 28.