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Big first half leads Rockdale past Alcovy
Alcovy's Justin Adair fights for a loose ball with a Rockdale County's Cristopher Barrera in the Tigers' 4-2 loss to the Bulldogs Thursday night. - photo by Anthony Banks

Senior forward Devon Dawkins tallied a pair of goals and Rockdale County netted three first-half scores Thursday night on the road at Sharp Stadium, outlasting rival Alcovy 4-2 in a region battled that moved the Bulldogs to third in the Region 2-AAAAAA soccer standings.

The Bulldogs found the back of the net three times in the opening 40 minutes, putting a flurry of shots on goal in an 18-minute span in the first half. Alcovy rallied in the second period, scoring twice in the second half, but the Tigers’ comeback big came too little, too late, as Rockdale improved to 3-2 in region play.

Rockdale coach Alf Holst said he was pleased with how the Bulldogs played in the opening half, but they can still continue to improve based on their second-half performance.

“Offensively in the first half, we really dominated play,” Holst said. “We were able to move the ball really well. In the second half, I was a little disappointed in our play because it took us a long time to put a goal on the board. 

“I think some of our guys got too focused on scoring and taking the shot instead of just letting it happen naturally. We don’t normally get into individuals putting themselves above the team and it got sloppy,” he said. “But, I know they just wanted to help finish off the win, so you can’t fault the guys too much for that. Alcovy was much harder to play against in the second half and shut us down defensively. Alcovy always plays us hard, but this is a building and learning game for us – we have to learn that we can’t take our foot off the gas.”

It took the Bulldogs nearly 15 minutes to find the back of the net for their first goal, but when Rockdale started scoring, it seemed like the goals would never cease.

Rockdale netted three scores in an 18 minute span, the first coming with 25:12 left on the clock in the first period on a Dominic Dixon goal. Jacob Colver started the run, gathering the ball down the right sideline. Dixon snuck behind Alcovy’s defense and took a feed from Colver in the box, finishing the cross in the bottom of the net for a 1-0 advantage.

Four minutes later, an Alcovy missed touch allowed Rockdale its second goal, this time from sophomore Djorn Barrett. Shad-I Dawkins won the ball just past midfield after the Tigers’ misstep, feeding Barrett the ball down the center of the field. Barrett went one-on-one with Alcovy’s Paul Rothe in the goal and chipped it over his head, extending Rockdale’s lead to 2-0.

Devon Dawkins ended Rockdale’s first-half scoring run with his first goal of the contest with 7:51 to go in the half, connecting on a feed from Shad-I Dawkins. Devon Dawkins netted the goal with a pair of Alcovy defenders draped on his back, sending the Bulldogs into halftime with a three-goal advantage.

Alcovy’s offense recovered in the second half, trimming Rockdale’s lead to 3-1 nine minutes into the period.

Rockdale’s Kevin Martinez was whistled for a foul on Justin Adair inside the penalty box, allowing Alcovy’s Brett Farr a penalty kick. Farr converted the shot with a top-shelf blast, drawing the Tigers within two scores.

Alcovy had a chance to cut the Bulldogs’ lead to a single goal two minutes later on a corner, but Farr’s cross to Jordan Adair in the box was misplayed, firing past the right post of the goal and out of play.

Rockdale squashed the hope of an Alcovy comeback with 30 minutes gone in the period, as Devon Dawkins scored his second, and Rockdale’s final, goal of the game. Shad-I Dawkins again found Devon Dawkins for the goal, this time hitting Devon Dawkins down the left sideline. Devon Dawkins dribbled past the Alcovy defense and connected perfectly on his shot attempt, pushing the Bulldogs’ ahead 4-2.

With 1:54 remaining, Alcovy’s Houston Kent drew the Tigers within two scores once again with Alcovy’s second goal of the half, but the Tigers were unable to put another score in the back of the net in the final minutes, falling by the two-goal final.

“I told the guys at halftime that they hadn’t played well for 120 minutes this week,” Alcovy coach Chris Edgar said. “Rockdale is too good to play like we did in the first half. I told the guys that we had 40 more minutes and if we played hard, good things could happen.

“They came out and played better in the second, but Rockdale is a quality squad and we couldn’t overcome the first-half effort,” he said. “Rockdale’s touch was on tonight and ours was not.”

Rockdale returns to action after spring break against Shiloh April 15, while the Tigers host ELCA April 14 at Sharp Stadium.