Seems like old times
After an unprecedented two-game losing streak to Smithville, the Rockdale Tigers returned to normalcy Friday night with a 41-13 victory over the Tigers during their homecoming activities at venerable Barry Field.
Rockdale also put the brakes on a current three-game losing skid and improved to 2-3 on the season, while Smithville—who had experienced a resurgence of sorts the past couple of years— droops to 0-5.
Before Smithville bested Rockdale the past two seasons, Big Blue had dominated their Tiger counterparts, winning 15 straight while holding a commanding 20-1-1 lead in the series that began in 1954.
“We had three tough losses we needed to get over,” said Rockdale Coach Jeff Miller. “And the only way to do that is go out and get a win and that’s what we did. It’s big for us.”
And no one was bigger than Elijah Brooks who pinballed his way through the heart of the Smithville defense for 114 yards rushing while crossing the Tigers’ goal line five times, including an impressive 33-yard touchdown catch and run
With the effort, the senior tied the school record of five touchdowns set by Larry White against Manor in 1992.
Brooks’ four rushing touchdowns were all from three yards or less.
His 33-yard touchdown reception was a study in long distance determination however.
After gathering in a pass from Clayton Gibbs over the middle on the Tigers third possession on third-and-eight, Brooks headed up field.
He used his hand on the ground to keep his balance, broke a couple of tackles and then sprinted for the far sideline to complete the 33-yard trip and a 14-0 lead.
“He had to fight for just about every yard,” Miller said. “He did a great job of hitting the small seams. He was really patient waiting for a crease to open.
“He was fighting though tackles to pick up the extra yards.”
It was the 5-foot-10, 21o-pound Brooks’ seventh 100- plus yard outing of his career.
It was a reversal of fortune of sorts for the two teams. Last season, Clayton Gibbs was forced into the starter’s role at quarterback after an injury to starter Ethan Brinkley. The Tigers had 13 players on the sidelines in street clothes due to injuries.
This time around it was Smithville’s turn with a newcomer under center as sophomore Garrett Mathis subbed for starter Khalil McCathern, who was nursing an injured shoulder.
While Smithville was playing without its top offensive threat in McCathern, the Tigers were also without an important cog in the machine in running back Dailynn Ramey who sat out with a knee injury.
Despite the lopsided score, Miller was not pleased with the uninspired play of his team.
“We came out a little flat,” he said. “I’m not really pleased with our execution.
“They switched defenses on us, so it’s understandable we would be a little confused. But, after we got it straightened out, we did alright.”
Despite posting its largest point total of the season, the 384 yards was Rockdale’s lowest output of the season.
The Big Blue defense held Smithville to 173 yards of offense, including 55 rushing yards on 48 carries.
The newcomer Mathis was sacked six times, including two each by James David and Austin Caffey and on 17 attempts gained a negative-8 yards.
Gibbs was 15-of-29 for 236 yards including a 43-yard hookup with Pearce Loth in the second quarter on the lone non- Brooks score.
Rockdale led 28-7 at intermission on two short runs from Brooks and his 33-yard reception and run.
Brooks scored a touchdown in each of the third and fourth quarters from two and three yards out.
TIGER SEASON LEADERS
Rushing— Brooks 79-410 7 TD, Ramey 22-154 3 TD, Gibbs 43-267 2 TD, Hernandez 5-19, McCartney 3-4.
Passing—Gibbs 93-168-5, 1,285 yards, 9 TD, McCartney 2-2- 0 14 yards.
Receiving—Burgess 30-390 3TD, Loth 28-493 3TD, Caffey 15-148 TD, Whitsel 4-51 TD, Brooks 3-63 TD, Heintze 2-16, Ford 4-59, Ramey 1-11, Drummond 4-37, Harris 2-13.
Tackles— David 38, Coates 38, Ehler 35, Caffey 33, Dansby 31, Castilleja 30, Prazak 22, Moreland 22. TIGER SEASON RESULTS (2-3) Rockdale 47, Salado 21 Burnet 20, Rockdale 9 Cameron 51, Rockdale 33 Liberty Hill 49, Rockdale 28 Rockdale 41, Smithville 13 Hillsboro Taylor at Madisonville Navasota Open at Caldwell