On the defensive
A game that featured two dangerous running attacks turned into a muddy defensive struggle with Liberty Hill coming out on top 16-7 Friday night at Tiger Field during Homecoming activities.
The Tigers sag to 2-2 for the first time since 2006, while Liberty Hill improved to 3-1.
The game was delayed 45 minutes because of lightning strikes during a short shower, but because of the lack of a passing attack and penalties, took less than two hours to complete.
The Tigers were gracious hosts on the evening, providing the opportunistic Panthers with two chances to score in the first quarter, including a fumble on their first possession.
Both defensive units sparkled in the game, with the Tigers allowing the 10 yards and a cloud of dust Panthers just 152 yards on 47 carries—just barely three yards per chance and surely one of their worst performances in a decade.
The Panthers had just one double-digit trip from the line of scrimmage.
The last two times these two teams faced off, Liberty Hill combined for well over 1,100 yards on the ground and put up 93 points for two wins on its way to consecutive state championships.
“The defense was superb and did a wonderful job,” Miller said. “They did everything we asked them to do.”
Unhappy with his team’s production in the first three games which included a victory over a ranked Cuero squad, Liberty Hill coach Jerry Vance benched his starting backfield for Friday night’s contest.
Seven different running backs touched the ball. Panther quarterback Blake Thompson completed just one pass for 12 yards on four attempts and just one after intermission.
Conversely, Liberty Hill limited the Tigers to 47 yards on the ground and 126 yards of total offense.
The Panthers did an outstanding job of containing Tiger speedster Daniel Brooks, who entered the game averaging over 200 yards a game.
The junior was limited to 34 yards on 14 carries and did not cross the goal line for the first time all season.
Brooks did haul in three passes for 37 yards.
Senior Terral Dixon ground out 41 yards on 10 carries.
The Tigers had nine carries that went for negative yardage for minus 60 yards.
The Tigers’ lack of experience at receiver was never more apparent as Brinkley had six passes dropped, two for probable scores.
“We’ve got to be able to throw the ball and catch the ball,” Miller said. “We just dropped too many balls. It’s embarrassing.
“If a team is going to give us the opportunity to do that, we’ve got to take it.”
Brinkley completed 7-of-21 passes for 79 yards and a touchdown.
“Offensively we did a lot of things we wanted to do, we just have to do things a lot better.”
After forcing Liberty Hill to punt on its first possession, the Tigers also stalled and misplayed a snap on a punt which the Panthers fell on at the 11-yard line.
On the Tigers very first play from scrimmage after the ensuing kickoff, Brooks fumbled at his own 37-yard line.
The Rockdale defense kept the Panthers out of the end zone, so Liberty Hill attempted a rare field goal which came off Spencer Stratton’s foot as a line drive which hit both the crossbar and the left upright before bizarrely spinning through the goal post to hand the Panthers a 10-0 lead with 55 seconds left in the first quarter.
Neither team scored again until the end of the third quarter.
Dixon’s 30-yard punt return set Rockdale up at the Tigers’ 48 yard line when the Brinkley to Lewis connection finally provided Rockdale with some points.
Brinkley found Lewis with a 12-yard strike to move the ball to the Liberty Hill 25 and then three plays later, lobbed a pass towards the goal line which Lewis bobbled, then snagged as he fell into the end zone.
It closed the gap to 10-7 with 1:11 left in the third quarter.
The Tigers had above average field position on the evening, starting from their own 48, their own 38 three times, their own 37 and from the Liberty Hill 41.
After Brinkley was sacked and a short punt from Cassius Moore, the Panthers put together a 48 yard drive that took almost five minutes off the clock, culminating when Corn popped over from the three after three straight carries to make it 16-7 with 2:54 remaining to be played.
The T iger s had t wo more opportunities to attempt to score, but three straight miscalculations by Lewis on pass routes on the first drive and an interception on the second dashed any hopes they had of mounting a comeback.
|Liberty Hill Rockdale|
|10 First downs||10|
|12 Passing yards||79|
|164 Total offense||126|
|Score by quarters|
|Liberty Hill 10 0 0||6—16|
|Rockdale 0 0 7||0— 7|
|LH—Morgan Amthor 4 run (Spencer Stratt|
|on k ick) 5 :00|
|LH—Stratton 30 FG :55|
|ROCKDALE—J.J. Lewis 24 pass from|
|Ethan Brinkley (Noe Zelaya kick)||1:11|
|LH—Brandon Corn 3 run (kick blocked)|
|RUSHING—ROCKDALE: Dixon||10 -41,|
|Brooks 14-34, Brinkley 4-(-28). LIBERTY|
|HILL: Corn 23-77, Amthor 10-38.|
|PASSING—ROCKDALE: Brinkley 7-21-2,|
|79 yards TD. LIBERTY HILL—Thompson|
|1-4-0, 12 yards.|
|RECEIVING—ROCKDALE: Brooks 3-37,|
|Lewis 2-35, Dison 2-7. LIBERTY HILL:|
|TACKLES—Morrow 11, David,||D. 11,|
|Clark 9, Schneider 9, Burrough 8, Hayes|
|7, Monroe 7, Montoya 7, Vasquez 6.|
|TIGER SEASON LEADERS|
|Rushing—Brooks 72-689||8 TD;|
|Dixon 41-257 5 TD; Palmo||12-113|
|2TD, Nelson 6-3, Carpenter 2-(-10),|
|Moore 1-(-17), Brinkley 16-(-55).|
|Passing—Brinkley 20-46-5, 194|
|yards, 3 TD; Carpenter 0-1-0.|
|Receiving—Lewis 5-93 TD, Brooks|
|6-49, Morrow 1-16, Dixon 3-22 TD,|
|Palmo 2-8, Garza 1-6, Carpenter 1-2|
|TD, White 1-(-2).|
|Tackles—David, D. 32, Hayes 30,|
|Burrough 22, David, J. 20, Bishop 16,|
|Montoya 18, Clark 18, Vasquez 14,|
|Brooks 10, Morrow 18, Carpenter 8,|
|David, P. 5, Dixon 5, Garcia 9.|
|TIGER SEASON RESULTS (2-2)|
|Rockdale 58, Austin Eastside 0|
|Rockdale 38, Salado 20|
|Cameron 35, Rockdale 13|
|Liberty Hill 16, Rockdale 7|