On its very first possession, Rockdale ran just two plays before electing to punt.
Rather than waiting for fourth down, the Bulldogs went for a quick kick on third-and-11 from its own 22, with the offense showing little against a talented Lovejoy team.
The same difficulty didn’t occur on Lovejoy’s first possession. The Wildcats, which took over on their own 43, used a 20-yard pass and a 21-yard run to set up their first score. Travis Curtis then marched in for 16 yards and so went the rest of the game.
The Bulldogs, which won its first game last week since August 2011, was beat by Lovejoy 41-0 at Twelve Oaks Stadium Friday.
Rockdale (1-5, 0-1 Region 2-AAAAAA) managed just 142 yards, including 53 in the first half – and that was courtesy of 72 yards on two pass completions – in a game which saw a running clock start up in the third quarter.
“The guys were in the state finals last year, and they returned 13 of their 14 starters,” Rockdale coach Venson Elder said. “Those guys are way stronger and their bodies are more developed. We’ve got to get the program on the right track in the weight room.”
In the first half, Rockdale’s offense looked like it had found a spark in the passing combination of quarterback Zuri Minifield and receiver Akwesi Mintah. The two hooked up on a 54-yard pass and an 18-yard pass, both completions coming on the same drive, which saw Rockdale eventually lose 19 yards. The drive may have brought Rockdale its only first down of the first half and one of three in game but gained just a net of 20 yards.
“(Mintah) has been working hard in practice,” Elder said. “He played a lot of reps and made some pretty good catches tonight.”
The pass-catch combination that showed so much promise on that drive, though, didn’t have a chance to show off again as Minifield was hurt on a tackle as he was throwing downfield by Lovejoy’s Nathaniel Norwood with 10:07 left in the second quarter. According to Elder, Minifield suffered a stinger and would be OK.
Willie Hardeman took over at quarterback, before he got hurt in the third quarter, and Ronzell Teague took over.
While Rockdale struggled to find positives at its skill positions, Lovejoy didn’t. The Wildcats threw for 208 yards on 16 attempts and 11 completions. Lovejoy’s running game kept the Bulldogs off balance, as Curtis starred throughout the first half, in which the Wildcats’ first string was on the field.
Curtis ran for 113 yards on nine carries, and scored the Wildcats’ first four touchdowns.
“Fundamentally, we didn’t tackle well,” Elder said. “We had our head down and we were reaching a lot. That’s something we have to do better.”
Curtis’ second touchdown came just two offensive plays after his first, this time on a 13-yard run, again to the left side. The Bulldogs saw another similar play from Lovejoy’s first drive, just before Curtis’ second touchdown as Jarrid Williams threw a bullet to the right side, caught by receiver JaMichael Ramos for a 45-yard gain to set up the score with 6:42 left in the first quarter.
Curtis’ longest run of the game came on a 46-yarder to make it 21-0, followed by another touch down run which was set up by Rockdale’s second third-down kick of the game.
After the Bulldogs punted from their own end zone, Lovejoy took over on Rockdale’s 16, and needed just a few plays before Curtis ran in for 4 yards.
The Wildcats finished off the Bulldogs with a 5-yard touchdown pass and a 48-yard pass to improve to 5-1 overall and 2-0 in region play.
The Bulldogs host Luella Friday, which hasn’t won a game all year heading into Friday night’s matchup against Druid Hills.
“The rest of the schedule, I think we match up pretty well,” Elder said. “(Lovejoy is) a head above us right now and they’re probably a head above everybody in this region right now.”