On the down low
Possibily so evenly matched, both teams seem to lose their ability to find the end zone and the over/under on the game could be in the teens.
Big Blue emerged from the latest grungefest with the Mustangs with a 13-10 victory at Tigerland Stadium Friday night.
It was the Tigers’ third comefrom behind win of the season.
With their off-week coming up, the Tigers improve to 3-2 on the season with a chance to rest up, heal up and prepare for a road trip to No. 14 Navasota (3-1) on Oct. 7.
The Tigers may have lost the battle, but won the war Friday night, being outdistanced 261 to 242 on offense and 17-13 on first downs.
“We didn’t play great at times,” said Rockdale Coach Jeff Miller, “but we played hard, especially on defense.
Rockdale and Madisonville have typically not put much of a strain on the scoreboard.
Half of the games in the 12- game series have been decided by less than three points.
After exchanged blowouts by both teams in 2007- 08 during the Chris Whaley era, Rockdale won 9-7 in 2009 with Madisonville winning 10-7 last season.
The series is now tied at 6-6.
So Friday’s night’s low scoring affair fell right into place.
Madisonville (1-4) choked off the Tigers’ No. 1 source of offense—the pass—so they had to scramble to put together some semblance of a running game.
While 89 yards on 33 carries (2.7 yards per carry) is hardly cause for celebration, it was effective enough to keep the Mustangs on their toes.
He picked up 45 of that total on three runs and his 17-yard pickup on third-and-13 with under a minute left allowed the Tigers to run out the clock.
“I feel like it was mostly successful because it chewed up a lot of the clock,” Miller said. “And clock management was crucial at the end of the game and we were able to run for some first downs.
“We felt like we were close to busting a couple of long runs.”
Consequently, quarterback Ethan Brinkley posted his lowest totals of the year, going 13-of-20 for 153 yards and two touchdowns.
“In the first four games we did sneak up on everybody with our passing,” Miller said. “Madisonville was manning us up with really good ath- letes and that makes it hard on Ethan and the passing game, so we had to attack what they were giving us.”
For the second week in a row, the Big Blue defense had to deal with a relentless running attack, this time in the form of Anthony Manns.
While Liberty Hill’s Brandon Corn toted the ball 36 times for 234 yards last week, Manns nearly matched him with 29 carries for 168 yards and accounted for the Mustangs’ only touchdown.
Manns was also responsible for two of Madisonville’s four fumbles which handcuffed the Mustangs all evening.
The senior fumbled the ball away on two consecutive possessions as the first one set up the Tigers winning score and the last one on Madisonville’s very next possession w ith 6 minutes, 39 seconds remaining to be played, allowed the Tigers to burn up some valuable time off the clock.
After each team punted on their first possessions of the evening, Madisonville could not take advantage of excellent field position at the Rockdale 36.
After stalling at the 12, Eduardo Palacios drilled a 29-yard field goal for a 3-0 Mustang lead with just three minutes gone off the clock.
Madisonvillle would attempt another field goal at the outset of the second quarter, but Zach Garza burst through the line and blocked the 37-yard try that would set up the Tigers’ first score.
Sparked by an 18-yard pickup from Ramey, Brinkley rolled to his right and then scrambled back to his left where he found a wideopen Clayton Gibbs near the end zone for a 39-yard hookup and a 6-3 halftime lead after Noe Zelaya missed the extra point.
Big Blue seemed poised to add to its lead at the outset of the second half, taking over five minutes to drive from its own 26 to the Madisonville 22, but Madisonville defensive back Brent McCloud made a great play knocking the ball out of Skubal’s hands in the end zone on fourth-and-9.
That was Rockdale’s only possession of the third quarter as the Mustangs used the rest of the period to set up their only touchdown that handed them the lead.
On the last play of the quarter, Madisonville used some trickery to catch the Tigers off guard. As Palacios lined up to attempt a 42-yard field goal, holder Jones flipped the ball to backup quarterback Connaly Sims on an end around, who then zipped the ball to Pat Cooper who was wide open in the flats on the reverse side and was brought down at the four after a 21-yard pickup.
On the first play of the fourth quarter, Manns slipped through the right side of the line untouched for the score to make it 10-6.
“We went through a lull in the middle of the game where they were making all the big plays,” Miller said.
After exchanging turnovers (a Brinkley interception, a Manns fumble recovered by Kolton Woolverton), the Tigers took advantage of their opportunity.
With the ball at the Madisonville 30 after the Manns fumble, it took seven plays to cover the distance with Brinkley finding Skubal in the end zone from 16 yards out for a 13-10 lead with 6:39 remaining to be played.
The Big Blue defense preserved the victory as Gabriel McQuinn dragged down Jones from behind on fourth-and-7 with 1:48 left in the game.
• While it won’t show up on the stat sheet, the Tigers were forced to play almost three quarters without their most valuable player in Patrick David. The senior lineman, who is a two-way starter, twisted his ankle in the second quarter and was unable to put any pressure on it.
• While the varsity escaped virtually injury-free, the undefeated freshman team received a blow when standout wide receiver Pearce Loth suffered a broken leg and is lost for the year. Miller said that Loth was having such a great year, that he would have probably been moved up to the varsity as the season went along as another target for Ethan Brinkley.
• Senior lineman Nic Erman should be ready to return to the field after having sinus surgery which has plagued him all season.
• Junior defensive end Gabriel McQuinn certainly responded well to losing his starting position to Patric Trejo by making eight tackles, including a sack of Madisonville quarterback Keelan Jones on fourth-and-seven with 1:48 left as the Mustangs tried to rally. He was named the defensive player of the week.
• Sophomore linebacker Patrick David posted double-digit stops again to lead the Tigers in tackles with 12. He has 64 for the season.
• At 5-foot-9 and 185 pounds, center Ty Kirk is hardly an imposing figure, but the senior always draws a tough assignment staring into the facemask of the other team’s noseguard and after fighting off 245- pound Jorge Rosas of Madisonville, Kirk graded out highest among Tiger linemen for the second time this season. He also recovered a fumble to stop a Madisonville drive at the Tiger 13-yard line.
• With his latest output, Brinkley now has 1,331 yards on the season which is fourth on the all-time season list. He has 2,156 for his career which is third all-time.
• His favorite target Cody Skubal is also threatening to set some new standards as his 32 receptions is a close sixth on the season best and his 568 yards is fourth. With a minimum of five games left, Skubal needs just 15 catches and 212 yards to tie both marks.
• Four Tiger receivers have at least 18 catches. In 2010, the Tigers top pass catcher had just 18 for the entire year.
• District 23-3A now has three teams ranked in the Associated Press poll. Navasota (3-1) checks in at No. 14, Giddings (4-1) at No. 17 and the surprise team of the entire state, Smithville (3- 0) is at No. 19. The Tigers ranking comes as a surprise as they have beaten a 2A school in Lexington and two lowly schools in Wharton and Needville which are 1-9 combined.
• Looking ahead to district, the Tigers are 14-7 in district play the last four seasons during their school record four-year playoff streak. Only Navasota (18-5) and Giddings (16-5) are better during
TIGER SEASON LEADERS
Rushing— Ramey 68 -232 2TD, David 14-48 1 TD, Hayes 7-24, Nelson 2-5, Brinkley 21-(-1) 2 TD.
Passing— Brinkley 112-181- 6, 1,331 yards, 10 TD.
Receiving—Skubal 32-568 7 TD, Garza 21-205 1 TD, Gibbs 18-176 TD, Caffey 20-213, Goodman 9-120 1 TD, Hayes 5-41, David 1-5, Ramey 5-3, Nelson 1- 0.
Tackles—David, J. 64, Hayes 51, David 26, Woolverton 21, Estrada 24, Schneider 19, Alonzo 19, McQuinn 18, Garza 17, Hamilton 15, Gibbs 15, Caffey 14, Skubal 12.
• The Tigers are 2- 6 in their last eight district openers, with wins against Cameron (2009) and Hutto (2004).
• Rockdale opponents are a combined 10-15 so far this season.
• Alumni report: Logan David, Blinn—Through three weeks of play, the 6-foot-4, 330-pound redshirt freshman has a sack and six tackles as the Bucaneers starting nose guard.
Joe Sanders, Midwestern State—In a 63-17 rout of Texas A&M- Commerce, the sophomore was 2-of-3 passing for 18 yards. Sanders is 4-for-8 for 50 yards and has rushed for 18 yards on the season for the 2- 0 Mustangs.
First quarter MADISONVILLE— Eduardo Palacios 29 FG 7:03
Second quarter ROCKDALE— Gibbs 39 pass from Ethan Brinkley (kick failed) 4:33
Fourth quarter MADISONVILLE— Anthony Manns 4 run (Palacios kick) 11:56 ROCKDALE— Cody Skubal 16 pass from Brinkley (Noe Zelaya kick) 6:39
RUSHING— ROCKDALE: Dailynn Ramey 24-78, Brinkley 6- 4, David 3-7. MAD: Manns 26-157. PASSING—ROCKDALE: Brinkley 13-20-1, 153 yards, 2TD. MAD: 7-13- 0, 61 yards. RECEIVING—ROCKDALE: Skubal 5-74 TD, Garza 2-17, Caffey 2-18, Gibbs 3-51 TD, Ramey 1-(-7). TACKLES—David 12, McQuinn 8, Gibbs 6, Schneider 6, Hayes 5, Estrada 4.
Last week—Rockdale 13, Madisonville 10; Giddings 14, West Orange-Stark 6.
This week—Rockdale is idle; Giddings is idle; Wharton at Navasota; Brookshire- Royal at Caldwell; LaGrange at Bellville; Columbus at Smithville.