But when Rockdale struggled to get its offense going, the defense made sure things didn’t get out of hand.
Making the championship round for the second consecutive year, Rockdale was dumped out in the second round of the 16th annual 7-on- 7 state championship.
Approximately 15,000 fans fended off the triple-digit heat to enjoy the competition at the Southwest Williamson Regional County Park.
Rockdale was making its sixth straight appearance in the tournament.
In pool play, Rockdale managed just two offensive touchdowns in its first two outings before erupting for 39 points in the third pool play game.
In the meantime, the Rockdale defense accounted for a dozen interceptions.
“It was really fun to watch our defense,” said Rockdale Coach Jeff Miller, who observed from the crowd. “We have new defensive staff, new defensive system and the kids really learned on the run and were improvising.
“I was especially proud of them in the first two games and the second half of the third game.”
After using a Hail Mary pass from Clayton Gibbs to Pearce Loth on the game’s final play to nip Fort Worth All Saints 39-34 in the first game of the championship round, Rockdale was eclipsed by Dallas Episcopal 46-14 in the second round.
In the win over All Saints, Rockdale broke open a 21-21 tie.
Defending state champion and Rockdale District 18-3A mate Navasota was also kicked out in the second round, by Argyle.
Graham edged Argyle 33-31 to gain the Division II title.
Defending Class 2A state champion Cameron was relegated to the consolation bracket and won three games before falling to District 13-2A opponent McGregor, 42-41.
In pool play, Rockdale finished second to Gilmer which went unbeaten.
Gilmer was knocked out in the third round by eventual champion Graham.
In the pool opener, Rockdale used a last-second interception and touchdown return by Elijah Brooks to clip Wellington 13-12.
With its offense still stalling, Rockdale fell behind 14- 0 en route to a 20-6 loss to Gilmer where the Tigers only points came via an Austin Caffey pick six.
Rockdale put all offensive woes behind it in a 39-21 dismantling of La Marque.
On top of the offensive explosion, Rockdale picked off five aerials.
Despite the lopsided win, Rockdale trailed 21-7 before knotting the score 21-all by intermission.
Devante Burgess sandwiched a short scoring pass in between two touchdown grabs by Caffey, the latter, a 20-yard sprint through the middle of the defense to tie the game.
Brooks opened the second half with his second pick for a score to push Rockdale ahead for good 27-21.
Rockdale kept LaMarque out of the end zone in the second half.
Caffey set up Rockdale’s next score with another interception, followed by Loth’s leaping touchdown grab in the left corner of the end zone to extend the score to 33-21.
After Hayden Offield and Loth interceptions, Ladontice Coats accounted for Rockdale’s final score to make the final 39-21.
NOTES: Senior lineman Ramsey Zinn acted as snapper for Rockdale... Still recovering from a knee injury, James David did not compete at the state tournament but acted as assistant coach. Despite the fact that he has verbally committed to Baylor, David was wearing a Texas Longhorn lanyard around his neck holding his car key... After going 0-3 on the first day, A&M Consolidated recuperated to rack up five wins on Friday to capture the consolation bracket championship. .... Southlake Carroll was the Division I champion, its first crown since the Dragons took the very first 7-on-7 title in 1998... Arlington Lamar is the only school to play in every 7-on-7 tournament since 1998... Each player was outfitted with $500 worth of uniform and shoes, from head to toe... The tournament will return to College Station next year at Veteran’s Park.
Dallas Episcopal 46,
Rockdale 39, Fort Worth
All Saints 34
Rockdale 39, LaMarque 21
Gilmer 20, Rockdale 6
Rockdale 13, Wellington 12