Tigers enter playoffs en fuego
When the dust cleared and the final gun sounded, they couldn’t reach any higher if the team was made up of operatic sopranos.
Already secure in their playoff future, the Big Blue crunched up Caldwell 69-21 Friday night at Hornet Stadium in the regular season finale.
The Tigers— who have won seven straight regular season ending games—captured the District 18-3A runner-up slot with a 6-4 overall mark and 3-1 in league play.
The Hornets finish up 1-8 and winless in four district contests. It’s their third straight one-win campaign.
“We were clicking on all cylinders,” said Rockdale Coach Jeff Miller. “You worry about having an open date and how you will react, but we weren’t flat at all. This is what we wanted.
Leading 49-14 at intermission, Miller took mercy on the Hornets, emptying his bench in the second half.
“Everybody got to play and they deserved to play. We’re looking to continue the season for several weeks.”
The 69 points scored by Rockdale is a modern- day school record. In 1927, the Tigers defeated Rosebud 103-0.
Big Blue accumulated 634 yards of total offense, a high in Miller’s eight years.
The Tigers were so dominant, that by the end of the first quar- ter, they had already rolled up 331 yards of offense and produced 35 points.
Quarterback Clayton Gibbs was near perfection, connecting on 15-of-20 passes for 309 yards and he broke his own school record with six touchdown passes.
The senior now has 26 scoring passes on the season— also a school record.
His favorite target was Pearce Loth who grabbed five passes for 75 yards and took in three touchdowns receptions.
The Tigers just missed the 300-yard mark on the ground, led by Elijah Brooks who chalked up another 100-yard game, with 130 on just 12 carries to push him over the 1,000-yard barrier for the second straight season.
It’s the senior’s sixth 100- yard effort of the season and fifth in his past six games. He also scored twice, giving him 16 touchdowns on the year.
Dailynn Ramey, who has been injured most of the season, saw his most significant playing time, carrying the ball 12 times for 74 yards and a touchdown.
Defensively, Rockdale yielded 223 yards and just 11 first downs.
Ladontice Coates snagged two interceptions and had returned one for a touchdown before it was called back for holding.
With barely three minutes ticked off the clock, the Tigers already led 21-7, thanks to two Caldwell kickoff miscues.
When the Hornets couldn’t handle Adolf Chavira’s lof ty opening kick, Derk Whitsel pounced on it at the Cal;dwell 32.
Two plays later, after a 27-yard fetch from Pete Heintze on the f irst play from scrimmage, Brooks tried right tackle for a five-yard touchdown.
Caldwell actually held on to the ensuing kickoff and marched 64 yards down field to knot the score 7-7 on Michael Bradley’s 23-yard sprint on a pitch.
After Coates’ return to the Caldwell 46-yard line was called back due to holding, Big Blue charged 70 yards to the end zone, sparked Brooks’ bust up the middle for 47 yards to set up a 15-yard scoring catch from Gibbs to Darius Ford for a 14-7 lead.
The Hornets had trouble again with Chavira’s kickoff as the ball bounced off Brady Taylor into the waiting arms of Hayden Offield at the Caldwell 48.
Gibbs found Austin Caffey on a 20-yard connection to set up Gibbs’ 28-yard scoring strike to Loth to make it 21-7 with 9 minutes, seven seconds left in the first quarter.