And Ethan Brinkley was the chief meteorologist.
Riding the pin-point precision of their junior quarterback, Rockdale rallied for a 52- 41 come-from-behind victory in tiny Eagle Stadium in 105 degree temperatures for the second straight week.
Combining for 55 first downs, 93 points and almost 1,000 yards of offense, the game took three hours and 1 minute to complete in the sweltering heat.
In just his 12th game as a starter, Brinkley broke—nay, dug up and buried—most of the single game passing marks in the RHS record book.
His 29-for-39 accuracy (75 percent) produced 444 yards and four touchdown strikes through the airwaves.
“He is just playing with so much confidence right now,” said Rockdale Coach Jeff Miller. “We have more confidence in throwing the ball than in handing it off right now, no matter where we are on the field or what the situation.”
From the same game, Brinkley’s 29 completions betters Sanders 22.
His four touchdowns ties Joe’s older brother Matt’s mark of four scoring passes in 2004 versus Giddings.
At one point, the 6-foot-2, 180- pound junior completed eight straight passes and 12-of-13.
As an indicator of things to come, he opened the game with five consecutive completions for 130 yards.
Salado (1-1) has become fodder for the Tiger record book. Last season, Daniel Brooks established a new single-game rushing mark and became the first Rockdale runner to reach 300 yards.
The pass catching woes of a year ago were also buried in Salado as Cody Skubal and Zach Garza and the rest of the receiving crew snagged every aerial Brinkley spun their way.
The 6-foot-3 Skubal—the basketball player who hadn’t set foot on a football field since junior high—snagged eight passes for 196 yards and two touchdowns, one from 50 yards on a catchand run slant and the other on a spectacular climb-the-ladder snag above a crowd in the end zone from nine yards out.
His receiving yardage breaks Gene Grayson’s 33-year old mark of 188 yards. Grayson also owns the school record for receptions with 12 in the same game against Caldwell.
Garza, who had one catch entering the game, hauled in seven passes from Brinkley and also passed the century mark with 123 yards and a score.
Dillon Goodman added five catches for 64 yards and a score and Austin Caffey four for 39 yards.
“We have six or seven guys we don’t mind throwing the ball to,” Miller said. “The passing game is rolling. It gives us a whole new look. What gets overlooked is that our offensive line is doing a heck of a job in pass protection.”
While defense was at a premium Friday night, it was an unforced error that turned the game in Rockdale’s favor and a defensive stand that preserved the win.
After Dailynn Ramey (17 carries,
56 yards, 2 TD) bulled over from the three-yard line to tie the game at 42-42 with 10:49 remaining to be played (followed by Brinkley’s successful two-point conversion pass to Patric Trejo), on the ensuing kickoff, Reece Nicholson fielded the ball at the 9-yard line, then fumbled.
He scooped up the loose ball, scampered into his own end zone and downed the ball—which is a safety—and provided the Tigers with a 44-42 lead and the ball.
With the ball at the Salado 43 after the safety punt, the Tigers then ate up almost five minutes of clock to cover the acreage with Brinkley placing a perfect pass in the hands of Goodman between two defenders in the end zone on fourth and goal.
The safety and the score meant that Salado would have to score twice in the final 5:47 for a tie or win.
This is where the Big Blue defense bowed up in the 100- degree heat and nearly 180 minutes on the turf to earn their keep.
With the ball on Salado’s 43, Horatio Estrada stopped Peyton Best for a yard loss on a pass play on first down.
After a 10-yard pickup on a Simmons scramble and facing a third-and 1, Patrick David—who had played both ways and was in on over 100 plays—busted through the line and dragged down Best for a three-yard loss.
Looking at fourth-and-four, Simmons rolled out and was dumped by James David which caused a fumble and gave possession of the ball to Rockdale one way or the other with 4 minutes showing.
“We are on the verge of being a pretty good team,” said Miller. “ This was huge for us. It was crucial that we come out of here with a win.”
TIGER SEASON LEADERS
Rushing— Ramey 26 -118 2TD, David 10-39 1 TD, Hayes 5-23, Nelson 2-5, Brinkley 9-(-15) 1 TD.
Passing— Brinkley 46- 68-3, 617 yards, 5 TD.
Receiving—Skubal 11-225 3 TD, Garza 8 -130 1 TD, Gibbs 8 - 90, Caffey 7-70, Goodman 5- 64 1 TD, Hayes 3-27, Garza 1-7, David 1- 5, Ramey 3- 6.
|0- 0||Punts||0- 0|
|Rockdale||7 13||14 17—51|
|Salado||15 13||6 8— 42|
First quarter SALADO—Joe Owens 41 pass from Ryan Simmons (pass failed) 10:04 ROCKDALE— Ethan Brinkley 1 run (Noe Zelaya kick) 5:14 SALADO— Peyton Best 31 pass from Simmons (Simmons run) 2:27
Second quarter ROCKDALE— Cody Skubal 50 pass from Brinkley (pass failed) 10:43 SAL ADO— Simmons 9 run ( Simmons kick) 7:03 ROCKDALE—Zach Garza 27 pass from Brinkley (Zelaya kick) 1:47 SALADO—Jim Wentrcek 5 pass from Simmons (kick failed) :00
Third quarter ROCKDALE— Dailynn Ramey 4 run (run failed) 8:24 SALADO— Simmons 2 run (kick block) 5:21 ROCKDALE—Skubal 9 pass from Brinkley (Goodman pass from Brinkley) 1:39
Fourth quarter SALADO—Simmons 2 run (Reece Nicholson pass from Simmons) 11:55 ROCKDALE— Ramey 3 run ( Trejo pass from Brinkley) 10:49 ROCKDALE—safety, Nichlolson downed ball in end zone 10:39 ROCKDALE— Goodman 17 pass from Brinkley (Zelaya kick) 5:47
RUSHING— ROCKDALE: Dailynn Ramey 17-56 2TD, Hayes 4-17, David 2-15, Brinkley 4-2. SALADO—Simmons 17-117. PASSING—ROCKDALE: Brinkley 29-39-1, 444 yards, 4 TD. SALADO— Simmons 14-23- 0, 175 yards 3 TD. RECEIVING— ROCKDALE: Skubal 8-196 2TD, Garza 7-123 TD, Goodman 5- 64 TD, Caffey 4-38, Gibbs 3-19, Ramey 2-4. SALADO—Wong 4-37. TACKLES—David 12, Hayes 8, Estrada 5, Garza 5, David 5, Schneider 4, Woolverton 4, Caffey 4, Gibbs 3, Alonzo 3.
Last week—Rockdale 52, Salado 41; Smithville 43, Wharton 12; Caldwell 28, Austin Crockett 6; Willis 35, Navasota 28; LaGrange 6, Yoakum 0; Giddings 45, Brookshire-Royal 3.
This week— Cameron at Rockdale; Madisonville at Caldwell; LaVernia at Giddings; Columbia at LaGrange; Bryan Rudder at Navasota; Wimberley at Smithville.
|444||Ethan Brinkley vs. Salado|
|2011||(29-39, 4 TD)|
|273||Joe Sanders vs. Coldspring|
|29||Ethan Brinkley vs. Salado|
|22||Joe Sanders vs. Coldspring|
|4||Ethan Brinkley vs. Salado|
|4||Matt Sanders vs. Giddings|
|44||D.J. Marek vs. Giddings|
|39||Ethan Brinkley vs. Salado|