Rockdale Rampage

Tiger defense causes eight turnovers in blowout victory
BY BILL MARTIN
Reporter Sports Editor


Darius Ford comes up with a circus catch while battling Hillsboro’s Chandler Gordon on a four-yard touchdown grab in the first quarter to provide the Tigers with a 24-0 lead. 
Reporter/Cliff Dungan Darius Ford comes up with a circus catch while battling Hillsboro’s Chandler Gordon on a four-yard touchdown grab in the first quarter to provide the Tigers with a 24-0 lead. Reporter/Cliff Dungan Desperately trying to cobble together a complete game, the Rockdale Tigers flirted with perfection Friday night in a dominating performance.

Big Blue hammered Hillsboro 59-7 at Tigerland Field as the Tigers celebrated homecoming activities and Shelby Evans was crowned queen.

Big Blue pulls even at 3-3 with its second straight victory, as the Tigers head into the District 18-3A opener Friday by hosting rival Taylor.

Friday’s rampage was the most points scored in the Jeff Miller era, ahead of a 58-0 win over Austin Eastside Memorial in 2010.

It’s the most points a Tiger team has posted since the Tigers defeated Pflugerville 62-0 in 1976.

It is also the 6th largest margin of victory in school history.

“It was a pretty solid performance,” Miller said. “We came out with a lot of enthusiasm and a lot of intensity. After this three game stretch, we needed to get on a really good roll.”

It could have been much worse. On Hillsboro’s first possession, linebacker Austin Caffey picked up a loose ball and returned it 37 yards for a touchdown but for some reason, the ball was blown dead and the score waved off.

And, both coaches agreed to employ a running clock in the fourth quarter with the Tigers leading 52-7.

Miller called out his linemen to tighten up their blocking schemes and Elijah Brooks took advantage of the wide open spaces with 200 yards on 18 carries with four touchdowns.

“We challenged both sides of the line and they responded very well,” Miller said. “We dominated both sides of the ball. There was a lot more intensity.”

Brooks has scored nine touchdowns in the past two games and his Friday night effort was his ninth 100-plus game of his career and the third time he has gone past 200 yards.

“He did a real good job of hitting holes,” Miller said. “He’s very good at not letting the first guy bring him down.

“When you get a good running back into the open field, good things happen.”

On the passing front, Clayton Gibbs tied a school record with four touchdown passes, which links him with Ethan Brinkley in 2011 and Matt Sanders in 2004.

Gibbs finished 15-of-24 for 170 yards before giving way early to backup Dylan McCartney who picked up his first touchdown of the year.

The four touchdowns were to four different receivers.

Using a perfectly balanced offense, Rockdale rolled up a season-high 544 yards—343 rushing and 201 passing— along with 27 first downs.

Defensively, the Tigers forced eight turnovers, including seven fumbles, four of which led to Big Blue scores.

They stomped out the Hillsboro (2-3) offensive effort, holding them to 180 yards, 73 of which came on a long distance touchdown run in the third quarter. The Eagles managed just eight first downs on the evening.

Big Blue scored the first six times they touched the ball and led 38-0 at intermission.

Hillsboro provided the Tigers with a scoring opportunity on the first play of the game as Ladontice Coates picked off a fumble in midair at the 25-yard line on the opening kickoff.

Three plays later, Brooks hauled in a pass from Gibbs and broke a tackle at the 10 on his way to the end zone.

On the Eagles next possession, they coughed up the ball again as Caffey scooped up a loose ball that was called dead at the 33, despite the fact he ran it in for a score.

The Tigers stalled, but Adolfo Chavira punched in a 26-yard field goal for a 10-0 lead.

After a Hillsboro punt, Brooks busted up the middle for nine yards and a score for a 17-0 lead.

Another Hillsboro fumble at the 44-yard line—this time covered by Jakob Moreland— set up Gibbs’ four-yard chip shot to Darius Ford for a 24-0 first quarter lead.

Senior fullback Marco Hernandez, who has spent most of his career clearing the way for others, picked up a career-best 51 yards on six carries. Junior varsity move-up Chase Pickett gained 41 yards on three carries.

“The great thing about games like this is (backup quarterback)Dylan McCartney gets half a game of experience and Pickett and Hernandez get to run the ball,” Miller said.


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