Opening night: rave reviews
Season openers are usually well renowened for using the verb “jitters” somewhere in describing a team’s play.
The Rockdale Tigers , opening night performance at Tigerland Field Friday received rave reviews after soundly sacking Salado 47-21 in the first game of the year.
The Tigers now face Burnet (1-0) at Bulldog Stadium Friday night at 7:30 p.m.
Big Blue roared out of the locker room in mid-season form, producing six scores the first six times they touched the ball, seven if you count the defensive contribution.
Hayden Offield’s 78-yard interception return for a touchdown provided the Tigers with a 40- 7 lead at intermission.
Rockdale rolled up 259 yards in the explosive first half, split almost evenly between passing and rushing, 130 to 129.
Not to be outdone, the Tiger defense limited the Eagles to 60 yards in the opening half.
“The first half was just one of those deals where you get on a roll,” said Tiger head coach Jeff Miller, who is 6-2 in season openers at Rockdale. “We played about as well as we could play. You couldn’t have scripted it better.”
With the massive lead in tow, Big Blue coasted in the second half and crossed the goal line just once as Miller cleared his bench.
“In the second half we came out a little sluggish,” Miller said. “It was two different ball games and they made some decent second half adjustments and we got a little lazy.”
It wasn’t his first start at quarterback, but his first as the clear starter and Clayton Gibbs engineered the offense like a veteran.
The senior passed for 197 yards and a score, while running for 51 more yards, including the year’s first touchdown.
“Very proud of the way he managed the offense and threw the football,” Miller said. “He looked like a two-year starter out there tonight. I don’t think he had a bad snap in the first half.”
With his five catches, Austin Caffey became the Tigers’ alltime leading receiver with 75 career catches, surpassing Joe Sanders’ 73 he accumulated from 2007-2009.
The senior finished with five grabs for 61 yards and a score.
Surprisingly, it was the least heralded Rockdale pass catcher, Pudgie Burgess who led the way with five catches for 82 yards and a spectacular 40-yard hookup with Gibbs where he drug Salado defender David Little the final five yards into the end zone.
It was the 5-foot-8, 155-pound senior’s first career touchdown.
The Big Blue ground attack was also potent with senior Elijah Brooks and junior Dailynn Ramey teaming up for 182 yards and three scores as the twosome alternated in the backfield.
Ramey, who was injured for most of 2012, broke free for a career-high 94 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He had one all last season.
His first score on the Tigers’ second possession of the evening, showed an unbridled Ramey breaking out of the pack, whisking around right end and dodging past several Salado defenders for an impressive 25-yard score.
Brooks took up where he left off last season when he gained 1,045 yards, powering for 88 yards on 17 totes.
Brooks accounted for Big Blue’s final score with a one-yard blast with 9:55 remaining in the game.
“ They both bring different things to the table and we don’t have special plays for either one when they’re in there,” said Miller. ‘It was good to see Dailynn have a good game, we haven’t seen him healthy in two years.”
Rockdale and Salado have a history of high scoring shoot outs, (Rockdale won 35-21 in ‘12, 51-42 in ‘11 and 38-20 in ‘10) but the Eagles could not keep pace as the Tigers maneuvered easily down the field in the first half.
Strangely, new Salado Coach Brent Graham hardly used Ryan Simmons, who in the past two meetings between the two squads, had amassed 620 yards of total offense and scored six touchdowns against the Tigers.
Shifting over to running back to make room for new quarterback and Gilmer transfer McLane Carter, Simmons touched the ball just 14 times for 91 yards and did not score.
Carter threw for 187 yards and three scores, but had almost 70 yards in losses on the ground.
“ They’re a good, power ful team,” said Graham. “It’s good to play good people. We fought to try and overcome, but they made the plays when it counted.”
This week—Rockdale at Burnet; Caldwell at Hearne; Navasota at Coldspring; Cleveland at Madisonville; Brookshire-Royal at Taylor
15 First downs 22
31-(-20) Rushes-yards 39-254
13-25-1 Passes 16-24-1
186 Passing yards 200
166 Total offense 454
4-42 Punts 1-36
6-1 Fumbles-lost 2-0
4-29 Penalties-yards 12-104
Score by quarters
Rockdale 27 13 0 7—47
ROCKDALE—Clayton Gibbs 9 run (Adolfo
Chavira kick) 8:02
ROCKDALE—Dailynn Ramey 25 run (Chavira kick) 6:11
ROCKDALE— Devante Burgess 40 pass
(Chavira kick) 2:28
SALADO— Davis Little 60 pass from
McLane Carter (Chase Crenwelge kick)
ROCKDALE—Austin Caffey 18 pass from
Gibbs (kick failed) :31
ROCKDALE— Ramey 9 run (kick failed)
ROCKDALE—Hayden Offield 78 yard INT
return (Chavira kick) 3:50
SALADO— Spears 29 pass from Csrter
(Crenwelge kick) :30
SALADO—Little 14 pass from Carter
(Crenwelge kick) 7:127
SALADO—Little 14 pass from Carter
(Crenwelge kick) 7:127
ROCKDALE— Brooks 1 run (Chavira
RUSHING—ROCKDALE: Ramey 11-94 2
TDS; Brooks 17-88 TD; Gibbs 7-51 TD;
Hernandez 3-19; McCartney 3-(-6). SALADO: Simmons 14-91.
PASSING— ROCKDALE: Gibbs 15-23-1,
197 yards, 2 TDs; McCartney 1-1-0, 3
yards. SALADO: Carter 13-26-1, 187
yards, 3 TDs..
RECEIVING—ROCKDALE: Burgess 5-82
TD; Caffey 5-61 TD; Loth 5-54; Harris 1-3.
SALADO: Little 6-81 TD..
TACKLES—Coates 9, Ehler 7, Moreland 7,
Castilleja 6, Prazak 5, Pelzel 4, David 3.
TIGER SEASON RESULTS (1-0)
Rockdale 47, Salado 21
at Liberty Hill