Coldspring washes out Tigers
This thing they call Mo is a cruel mistress.
Rockdale lost its grasp on the momentum it had gathered and in turn the game in a 51-35 setback to Coldspring in a Class 3A, Division II Region IV contest Friday at Buddy Moorhead Stadium on a chilly fall evening.
Coldspring (10-2), which had shocked state power West Orange-Stark in the first round, travels on to challenge Lorena (9-3) in the regional semifinals Friday at A&M Consolidated in College Station.
The 8-3 Tigers—who reached the rank of No. 10 in the polls earlier in the year, but dropped three of their last four games of the season— were knocked out of the state playoffs in the first round for the second time in the past three years.
The game took a turn for the worst when after a terrific defensive stand by the Big Blue defense that forced a punt and protected a 28-21 lead, the Tigers went for broke on the change of possession and on first down attempted a halfback option pass that was short and picked off by Coldspring's Sherman Gilbert at the Rockdale 40.
Three plays later, Tevin Bryant skirted the right sideline for 21 yards and a touchdown with 6 minutes, seven seconds left in the third quarter and after Gilbert's two-point conversion, the Trojans snared a lead they would never relinquish and the Tigers would never recover.
Gilbert's pick ignited a 23-point turnaround for an opportunistic Coldspring squad.
"We tried the trick play, it had looked great all year," said Rockdale Coach Jeff Miller. "We were going for the big change of possession play and thought we could hit them big. It was a momentum killer. I know in this business if you call something like that and it doesn't work, you're stupid. If you execute it well, then you made a great call.
"But, that's just one play. That just tied the game up. We still have to go out there and make plays."
On the Tigers next possession, Joe Sanders threw his second interception of the evening, which Kedrick Harrison returned to the Tiger 13.
Three plays later, Coldspring quarterback Chad Allen snuck over from the four to hand the Trojans a 35-28 lead with 4:37 left in the third quarter.
In under three minutes, Coldspring had gone from heads hung in frustration to capturing the lead.
The Trojans scored on five of six possessions after trailing.
"We needed to make a play and didn't," Miller said. "When we threw the one interception it was no time to panic. We just had to get back out there.
"But when we throw another interception and they score, we kind of put ourself in a bind."
The Tigers answered back just once, on Terral Dixon's six-yard blast up the middle to close the gap to 45-35 with 1:38 remaining to be played.
When Rockdale attempted an onside kick on the ensuing kickoff, Allen snatched the ball out of the air and returned it untouched for a 42-yard score that made it 51-35.
Despite the score, the Tigers dominated the offensive statistics.
They accumulated 448 yards of offense while collecting 23 first downs along the way, compared to Coldspring's 287 yards and 19 firsts.
However, Rockdale turned the ball over five times (three interceptions, two fumbles)
"We did some things offensively, but you can't keep giving them the ball," Miller said. "We still had a chance to put up 42 points."
Senior running back Greg Chelf turned in a superb game, running hard inside for 105 yards (98 in the first half) on 16 carries, but when the Tigers fell behind, they abandoned the run and focused on moving the ball through the air.
That allowed Sanders to put up school-record numbers in trying to rally his team.
Playing in his final game, the senior connected on 22-of-37 passes for 272 yards, two interceptions and two touchdowns.
The 272 yards eclipses D.J. Marek's 251-yard effort against Manor in 2005.
The 22 completions ties him with Mark Drake who had the same amount in the area loss to Carthage last season.
Coldspring ran the ball 50 times for an unimpressive 238 yards and Allen—who had thrown for over 1,200 yards this season—attempted just six passes for three completions and 49 yards, all in the first half.
The Trojans gained 129 of their 238 yards after the interception, led by Leigh's 95 and three scores.
"We gave them some creases and they found them," Miller said. "We were overpursuing on a lot of plays."
Big Blue came out of the locker room in command and with a plan.
The Tigers took the opening kickoff and embarked on a 80-yard march that ate up nearly eight minutes of clock and resulted in a 7-0 lead.
Facing a fourth-and-goal from the three-yard line and the possibility of walking away with nothing for their troubles, Sanders rolled out and found a wide open Tyler Wright in the end zone to complete the short pass.
Finding themselves trailing 15- 7 to start the second quarter, the Tigers roared back with scores on two of their next three possessions to snatch back the lead.
After a Terral Dixon fumble at the 15-yard line, Wright provided Rockdale with the first opportunity.
As Juan Estrada pressured A l len, who wa s scrambling around in his own end zone, Wright snared an errant Allen pass and returned it to the 18.
After Chelf moved the ball to the eight with a 10-yard blast, Sanders pushed his way into the end zone to close the gap to 15-14 with 6:58 left in he first half.
The Tiger defense then held and forced a punt and then an illegal block penalty moved the ball to the Coldspring 32-yard line.
Chelf took care of the yardage in one gulp, busting off left tackle for the 32-yard score to put the Tigers back in the lead 21-15.
Coldspring knotted the game with 12 seconds left in the half on a brilliant 26-yard throwback pass from Allen to Leigh that caught the Tigers off guard.
• Both Navasota and Caldwell eked out one-point wins in their respective area games. Caldwell needed overtime to shake off Cleveland 21-20, while Navasota held on for a 35-34 win. Caldwell will now find out how good it is when it clashes with defending state champion and No. 2 Carthage in Corsicana Friday at 7:30. Navasota will face the current No. 1 team in the state in Gilmer, Saturday at 2 p.m. in Lufkin.
• Sierra Blanca, the 1-9 six-man team that made the playoffs and was mentioned in this space a couple of weeks ago, was dealt out of the playoffs with a humiliating 72-24 loss to Ackerly Sands.
• With his rushing touchdown Friday night, Joe Sanders finishes with 29 scores which leaves him in second place on the all-time list behind Blade Bassler's 35. Sanders also became only the seventh Tiger quarterback to surpass the 1,000-yard passing mark with 1,275. Five of the seven who passed the plateau played in this decade.
• Waylon Boyd finishes his career as the second best kicker in Rockdale history with 80 extra points, second to Mario Garza's 93 (1974-76).
• Greg Chelf ends his career with 1,575 yards rushing and 15 touchdowns.
• Brandon Gibbs led the Tigers with 22 catches for 334 yards which gives him 40 catches for 666 yards for his career.
• Tyler Wright made the best of his 14 catches this season, with six of them going for touchdowns.
• Logan David, who has also played in his last football game, led the Tigers in tackles barely edging his younger brother Derek.
• The loss leaves the Tigers football program with a break even 54-54 mark for the decade. They are also 19-19 in 20 playoff appearances.
|Rockdale||7, Marlin 2|
|Rockdale||9, Madisonville 7|
|Coldspring 51, Rockdale 35|
This week: Caldwell vs. Car thage; Navasota vs. Gilmer. Last week—Coldspring 51, Rockdale 35; Caldwell 21, Cleveland 20; Navasota 35, Silsbee 34.
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 22-334 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.
|Score by quarters|
First quarter ROCKDALE—Tyler Wright 3 pass from Joe Sanders (Waylon Boyd kick) 4:09 COLDPSRING—Andrew Leigh 10 run (Ashton Perry kick) 1:11
Second quarter COLDPSPRING—Leigh 5 run (Chad Allen run) 10:56 ROCKDALE—Sanders 8 run (Boyd kick) 6:58 ROCKDALE—Greg Chelf 32 run (boyd kick) 4:57 COLDSPRING—Leigh 26 pass from Allen (kick fail) :12
Third quarter ROCKDALE—Justin Elliott 14 pass from Sanders (Boyd kick) 10:01 COLDSPRING—Tevin Bryant 21 run (Gilbert run) 6:07 COLDSPRING—Allen 4 run (run failed) 3:14
Fourth quarter COLDSPRING —Pery 29 FG 8:10 COLDSPRING—Allen 1 run (Perry kick) 2:52 ROCKDALE—Terral Dixon 6 run (Boyd kick) 1:38 COLDSPRING—Allen 42 KO return (run failed) 1:34
The Leaders RUSHING—ROCKDALE: Chelf 16-105, Dixon 4-37, Sanders 10-21, Brooks 5-13. COLDSPRING: Leigh 16-95 3 TD, Bryant 12-72, Allen 21-70 3 TD. PASSING—ROCKDALE: Sanders 22-37- 2, 272 yards, 2 TD, Chelf 0-1-1. COLDSPRING: Allen 3-6-1, 49 yards. RECEIVING—ROCKDALE: Gibbs 5-68, Wright 5-38, Chelf 4-48, Torres 4-30, Dixon 2-54, Elliott 2-35. COLDSPRING: Leigh 2-36. TACKLES—