Needing a big statement to inject themselves into the District 18AAA race, the Rockdale Tigers did exactly that Friday, routing Madisonville 45-13 Friday before a sparse Fair Friday crowd at Tiger Field.
It was a laugher for the home team, finally getting healthier after a series of injuries, great and small.
Big Blue scored with razzle-dazzle— a pass from a reverse and another TD set up by a flea flicker—but also drove 61 yards on a good-looking 11-play drive in the third period that featured two fourth down conversions and gutsy second efforts by QB Ethan Brinkley and receivers Austin Caffey and Peace Loth.
Brinkley threw 31 times and completed 21 for 292 yards as Big Blue came out gunslinging—its first play was a 34-yard flea flicker—and RHS didn’t put its passing attack back in the holster until the Tigers were ahead by four TDs in the fourth quarter.
Crist raced for 39 yards on his first carry and only 49 the rest of the way. Madisonville took 13 plays to drive a tortuous 57 yards to its only offensive TD. The Ponies’ only other score was a fluke 85-yard tipped pass return.
Bottom line. It was Big Blue’s night and it just wasn’t Madisonville’s. Each team downed the ball inside their opponent’s 1 in the second quarter. Rockdale came away with nine points, a safety and a TD. Madisonville got none, fumbling on two consecutive snaps inside the Blue 5, giving it away on the second bobble.
On Rockdale’s first offensive snap, Brinkley handed the ball to running back Elijah Brooks who lateraled it right back to Brinkley. The Tiger QB launched a bomb to the left sidelines, caught by Drevonne Martin at the Pony 26, a 34-yard gain.
Four snaps later Brinkley ran the QB sneak two yards to paydirt. Noe Zelaya booted h is first of four PAT kicks and RHS was on top to stay with 7:15 left in the first quarter.
Madisonville’s Grant Smith signalled for a punt fair catch at the Mustang 17, muffed it, the ball scooted out of a pile and was picked up by Tiger Kris Baldivia who scooted into the end zone. But you can’t advance a muff and RHS set up shop at the 17.
Brinkley converted a fourthand two on a quarterback sneak and Brooks got the RHS from six yards out. Zelaya added the PAT and the Tigers led 14-0 with 2:22 left in the first.
Madisonville used runs by Crist and the passing of QB Donald Roundtree for its only sustained drive of the game, 57 yards in 11 plays.
Crist got the TD from a yard out at the second quarter’s 8:58 mark, Ryan Clever added the PAT and Rockdale’s lead was cut to 14-7.
Brinkley drilled a 44-yard punt which was killed by Devante Burgess inside the Pony one.
On the next snap, Pelzel nailed FB Mason Jarrell in the Madisonville end zone. The safety put the Tigers up 16-7 with 6:36 left in the half.
Af ter Madisonville’s “ free kick”you get to punt it instead of place kick after a safety—RHS set up at the Pony 44. Brinkley handed the ball to Brooks, who slipped it to Clayton Gibbs on what appeared to be a reverse.
Gibbs, who is also Rockdale’s backup quarterback, pulled up and fired a 44-yard TD to an absolutely uncovered Pearce Loth streaking down the right sideline.
Zelaya added the PAT and the game it was, 23-7 with 6:22 to go in the half.
Madisonville’s Jaylen Manley killed the ball inside the Blue 1. RHS barely got it out and Brinkley had to punt from the end zone. Pony Grant Smith returned to the Tiger 8.
But Crist fumbled on consecutive snaps from inside the Blue 5. Madisonville got the first one back but Rockdale’s Pelzel was at the bottom of the second pile and the Tigers came away with the game’s biggest turnover.
The rout resumed in the third quarter with the the game’s best drive.
Beginning at his own 39, Brinkley passed the Tigers to a fourth-and-two at the Pony 46, then rolled left and connected with Brooks for a key 7-yard gain.
A few seconds later it was fourth-and-eight at the Madisonville 31. Brinkley retreated into the pocket, absorbed a dead-on hit, stepped up, eluded another hit and fired a strike to Caffey in the left f lat, still short of a first down.
Caffey bulled through one tackler, stepped over another and turned the play into a 14-yard first down.
On the next snap, Brinkley tossed to Loth, who did pretty much the same thing, turning a short pass into a 17-yard TD with his second and third efforts.
Zelaya’s PAT kick missed. Rockdale led 29-7 with 8:07 left in the third and the Madisonville crowd, if there had been one, would have started on its 83-mile drive home.
They would have missed the Ponies’ biggest moment. RHS threatened again but Madisonville’s Alfredo Solis, in full stride at the Mustang 15, grabbed a tipped pass and set sail 85 yards to the Blue end zone. A 2-point run failed and Rockdale led 29-13 with 2:41 left in the third.
Not to worry. Brinkley marched the Tigers 59 yards in 7 plays, aided by a personal foul f lag. Brooks went over from the 8. A 2-point PAT pass was too tall but Rockdale led 35-13 with 13 seconds remaining in the third period.
The fourth quarter was mopup time. Rockdale went 72 yards in nine plays, with Brooks clicking off gains of 18, 6, 1 and then strolled in for the 2-yard TD. Zelaya added the PAT and the Tigers were up 42-13 with 8:42 left in the game.
The only drama left was whether the marathon game would end before Restless Heart ended its set at the Rockdale Fair several blocks away.
It did, but not before Zelaya drilled a 20-yard field goal at the 2:20 mark, completing the scoreboard at 45-13.
The win leaves RHS still very much alive in the 18-3A post season chase, at 1-1 with two loop games to play. The Tiger season mark is squared at 4-4.
Even Madisonville at 0-2 in loop play retains post-season hopes as the Ponies close out their season with Taylor and Caldwell.
|NA First downs||NA|
|41-150 Rushing yards||36-119|
|70 Passing yards||336|
|220 Total offense||455|
|Rockdale 14 9||12||10—45|
|Zelaya kick) 7:15|
|in Madisonville end zone||6:||36|
|Clayton Gibbs (Zelaya kick)||6:||22|
|ROCKDALE—Loth 17 pass||from||Brinkley|
|(kick failed) 8:07|
|return (Zelaya kick) 2:41|
|ROCKDALE—Brooks 7 run||(||Zelaya||kick)|
|ROCKDALE—Brooks 2 run||(||Zelaya||kick)|
|ROCKDALE—Zelaya 20 field||goal,||2:20|
RUSHING—ROCKDALE: Brooks 16-57;
3TD, Ramey 13-64, Dansby 1-4, Brinkley
6-(-6). MADISONVILLE— Crist, 28-88,
PASSING—ROCKDALE: Brinkley 21-31-1,
292 yards, 1 TD; Gibbs, 1-3-0, 44 yards,
1 TD; MADISONVILLE: Roundtree 6-15-2,
RECEIVING—ROCKDALE: Walton 3-93,
Loth 4-83, 2 TD; Gibbs 3-38, Caffey 4-33,
Burgess 3-30, Whitsell 2-23; Baldivia 1-15,
Ford 1-13, Brooks 1-8. MADISONVILLE:
Smith 3-48, Crist, 2-19, Merchant 1-3.
TACKLES—David 18, Hayes 10, Caffey 10.
|Caldwell at||Madisonville;||Taylor is||idle.|
TIGER SEASON LEADERS
Rushing— Brooks 119-748 12
TD, Ramey 45-188, Hayes 26-148
TD, Coats 6-36, Dansby 8-24, David
1-5, Burgess 2-6, Castilleja 2-3,
Gibbs 8-(-8), Brinkley 24-(-48) 2TD,
Passing— Brinkley 87-154-10,
1,270 yards, 8 TD; Gibbs 26-64-2,
381 yards, 4TD.
Receiving—Caffey 25-305 3TD,
Loth 24-368 4TD, Gibbs 17-298 2TD,
Burgess 13-148, Baldavia 6-138 TD,
Walton 7-187 TD, Ramey 4-51, Ford
2-33, Trejo 3-58 TD, Burton 3-24,
Dean 1-16, Brooks 2-18, Gates 1-12,
David 2-18, Hayes 1-7.
Tackles—Hayes 113, David 108,
Coates 75, Caffey 67, Ehler 39, Dansby 37, Gibbs 29, Heintze 24.