Gibbs Plucks Ducks

Big Blue QB sets new school record with 5 TDs in rout of rival
Reporter Sports Editor

In his first year as starting quarterback, senior Clayton Gibbs is re-writing the record book in passing at RHS. 
Reporter/Cliff Dungan In his first year as starting quarterback, senior Clayton Gibbs is re-writing the record book in passing at RHS. Reporter/Cliff Dungan Clayton Gibbs is such a blue collar football player, it’s a wonder he doesn’t wear a hard hat and carry a lunch pale with him out on the field.

Quietly and methodically, he simply gets the job done.

Gibbs jackhammered the Taylor Ducks with five touchdowns and 291 yards in a 42-21 victory Friday night at Tigerland Field to open up District 18-3A play with an exclamation point.

Big Blue—which has now won three straight after losing three straight to improve to 4-3—has taken four of the last five against the Ducks who fall to 1-6 on the season and have lost five straight.

It was Rockdale’s first district opening win since a 42-21 victory over Cameron in 2009.

In reeling off three straight, the Tigers have amped up the offense, averaging 48 points per game and pumped up the defense, allowing just 41 points in the three outings.

Gibbs established a couple of school records on the evening. While throwing for five touchdowns, he broke the old single game mark of four held by Ethan Brinkley (2011) and Matt Sanders (2004).

With the five tosses, the 6-foot- 1, 195-pound senior now has 18 touchdowns on the season, passing Mark Drake’s school mark of 16 in 2008.

Gibbs even chipped in a 16-yard scoring run in the third quarter, his third rushing touchdown of the year.

“He’s just doing his job,” said Rockdale Coach Jeff Miller. “He’s an intelligent kid and Coach (offensive coordinator Hunter) Hamrick has put him in great position to make some plays and our receivers have done a great job of getting open.”

The Tigers trampled Taylor with a near perfect balance on offense to the tune of 509 yards.

And while Gibbs riddled the Ducks through the air, Elijah Brooks punished Taylor with a tireless effort, carrying the ball 32 times for 174 yards.

“He did a great job of getting the tough yards,” Miller said. “There were not a lot of gapping holes. Every yard that he got, he earned.”

It was Brooks’ third straight 100-plus effort and ninth of his career.

Rockdale’s defensive strategy on the evening was to keep the ball out of the Ducks’ hands.

After three quarters, the Tigers held a 28 to 8 minute advantage in time of possession and the final count was 34 to 14.

The Ducks finished with 283 total yards, but 154 of that came in their final three drives against reserves with the game out of hand.

“Our defense was really flying around and pursuing,” Miller said. “

Isaac Franco—the district’s leading rusher coming in—picked up 144 yards, but 112 came off two runs and 97 was on the Ducks’ final two possessions.

Thanks to a 56-yard touchdown run, the relentless Franco had 99 yards by halftime on six carries.

After being popped by a swarming Tiger defense and helped off the field in the first quarter, the senior touched the ball just twice in the second quarter and just once in the third quarter.

Big Blue seemed to be pushing the envelope when it came to scoring early, with three of their first four scores in the first half coming on fourth down.

Still, the score could have been much worse. While building a 28-7 halftime lead, the Tigers fumbled twice at the goal line and suffered through five dropped passes, two probable touchdowns.

“It’s a little bit frustrating,” Miller said. “We were happy to lead 28-7, but it should have been out of hand much earlier. For a rival game in a district opener, the intensity was super, the execution was not.

“This group ha a chance to be exceptional. We need to achieve that killer instinct to put them away when we have the chance.

“I challenged them after the game, do we want to be mediocre or really, really good. We’re so close to being really good.

The game even had a glimpse of the Rockdale-Taylor games of old (without the fights) as both squads rolled up over 100 yards in penalties. Taylor was flagged 15 times for 159 yards.

“I thought we did a great job of not responding to what they were doing.”

After being forced to punt on their first possession of the evening, Big Blue found the end zone seven of their next nine times they touched the ball.

The Tigers engineered drives of 15, 11, 10, 8 and 8 in keeping their death grip on the ball.

Rockdale ran 85 plays to Taylor’s 53 and the Ducks’ final drive consisted of 15 plays without a score as they drove down to the 12-yard line as the clock ran out.

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