Bi-District Beat Down
Like it had in last season’s matchup with Lorena, Rockdale dominated the first half and took a halftime lead into the locker room. We all know how that turned out.
Fighting off the spector of that heartbreaking loss in 2012, Big Blue never wavered in a commanding 55-28 victory in Class 3A, Divison II, Region III bi-district action at picturesque Crusader Stadium on the campus of Mary Hardin-Baylor.
The Tigers move on to face Center (see below) in the area round at A&M Consolidated in an attempt to win consecutive playoff games for the first time since 1998.
Lorena, which entered the game as District 17-3A champions and had won at least one playoff game for five straight years, goes home at 9-2.
In their first playoff victory since 2008, the Tigers were dominant on both sides of the ball, turning in that elusive perfect game that had been so close so many times.
“We played hard from the very beginning,” said Rockdale Coach Jeff Miller. “They are a heck of a team and we knew they wouldn’t give up. We never gave up. We had kids extremely tired and winded and we just kept playing hard.
“This is a great feeling. We deserve a chance to play another week.”
“They played very well, and we had a couple of bad blunders in the kicking game that cost us early,” Lorena coach Ray Biles said. “They came out and mashed us pretty well, and we couldn’t match them.”
In their most physical game of the season, Big Blue limited the Leopards to 365 yards of offense by punishing the punisher, quarterback Harris Coleman.
The 6-foot, 230-pound ball of energy ran for just 71 yards, almost half as much as he averaged during the regular season and far less than the 194 he rolled up in last year’s comeback win when Lorena reeled off 28 straight second half points to stun the Tigers.
Most of the yards he did pick up were after the Tiger defense had contained him in the pocket and he was able to break free.
The senior tried to run just 19 times, where he usually racks up 30 or more carries. He never made it to the end zone.
In the come-from-behind win last season, Coleman beat the Tigers almost single handedly.
“We did a better job of bottling him up,” Miller said. “We had more than one person tackling him. Rarely did just one person have to bring him down by himself.”
“He’s as good a player as we’ve ever seen. A great competitor who can take over a game.”
Coleman finishes his career with just over 7,000 total yards and 90 touchdowns.
James David—who missed last season’s playoff contest with Lorena due to a knee injury— made up for the absence and made it his own personal quest to hound Coleman and the senior middle linebacker finished with 15 tackles, including three for losses.
On the evening, the swarming defensive unit recorded 12 tackles behind the line of scrimmage.
The Leopards’ frustrations began early as the Tigers scored the first three times they got their hands on the ball and led 20-0 with 4 minutes, 21 seconds left in the first quarter.
Clayton Gibbs found Pearce Loth at the 20-yard line en route to a 43-yard score, followed by Gibbs’ dive into the end zone on a 10-yard run to cap an 80-yard drive and then the Tigers took advantage of a fumble recovery on the kickoff and Elijah Brooks busted over right tackle to make it 20-0.
Rockdale took advantage of another Lorena fumble at the end of the second quarter at the Tiger 18 and then drove 82 yards with Gibbs scrambling right and throwing left to find a wide open Brent Drummond in the middle of the end zone for a 26-6 lead.
Lorena in turn drove 67 yards for a score on a Coleman to Cody McKenzie 15-yarder to clip the lead to 26-12 with just two seconds left in the first half.
Lorena’s plans of an onside kick backfired, as the ball was batted around by both teams and finally recovered by the Tigers at the Lorena 44.
However the clock never started and Rockdale had a chance for one more play.
Gibbs heaved the ball into the middle of the end zone where there were four Tiger receivers waiting and after Austin Caffey tipped the ball, Darius Ford came down with the ball for the improbable touchdown and a 32-12 halftime lead.
Gibbs turned in a—dare we say it—Manziel-like performance Friday night and is quietly having an all-state caliber season.
With four touchdown passes against Lorena, that gives the senior an impressive 30 scoring strikes on the season.
He finished with 224 yards passing and another 66 on the ground that included an airborne 10-yard touchdown run.
Gibbs worked his favorite target Pearce Loth all night, connecting on seven catches for 158 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Elijah Brooks punished the Leopards’ defense with 154 yards on 24 carries and a touchdown.
On the evening, seven different Tigers found the end zone, including Marco Hernandez and Brent Drummond who logged their first touchdowns of the season.
“They were frustrated because we got them out of their game plan, got them out of their comfort zone,” Miller said. “They would rather control the ball.” Lorena Rockdale 22 First downs 26 44-157 Rushing yards 49-331 15-28-1 Passes 11-19-1 340 Passing yards 224 208 Total offense 555 1-36 Punts 3-30 1-0 Fumbles-lost 4-4 6-60 Penalties 7-80
Score by quarters Lorena 66816—28 Rockdale 20 12 16 7—55
First quarter ROCKDALE— Pearce Loth 43 pass from Clayton Gibbs (kick fail) 10:25 ROCKDALE— Gibbs 10 run (Chavira kick) 6:18 ROCKDALE—Elijah Brooks 10 run (Chavira kick) LORENA— Duggan Burch 4 run ( pass fail) :55
Second quarter ROCKDALE—Brent Drummond 6 pass from Gibbs (kick fail) 1:30 LORENA— Cody McKenzie 15 pass from Harris Coleman (run failed) :02 ROCKDALE— Ford 44 pass from Gibbs (kick failed) :00
Third quarter ROCKDALE— Ramey 27 run (Loth pass from Gibbs) 6:47 ROCKDALE— Loth 20 pass from Gibbs (Burgess pass from Gibbs) 4:53 LORENA—Adrian Rodriguez 11 run (Rodriguez run) 2:14
Fourth quarter ROCKDALE—Marco Hernandez 3 run (Chavira kick) 10:55 LORENA— Rodriguez 11 run (Rodriguez run) 7:21 LORENA—McKenzie 44 pass from Coleman (Coleman run) 6:11 RUSHING— ROCKDALE: Brooks 24-154 TD, Ramey 5-53 TD, Gibbs 2-66 TD, Hernandez 3-1 TD. LORENA: Coleman 19-71. PASSING— ROCKDALE: Gibbs 11-19-1, 224 4TD. LORENA: Coleman 15-28-1, 208 yards 2TD. RECEIVING— ROCKDALE: Loth 7-158 2TDS, Drummond 3-22 TD, Ford 1-44 TD,. TACKLES—David 15, Caffey 11, Coates 9, Moreland 6, Prazak 5, Pelzel 5, Whitsell 5.