Rockdale put up a solid front and outlasted a strong Heritage push to beat the Patriots 27-21 - the third straight victory over Heritage in head coach Venson Elder's tenure at RCHS.
Rockdale held a 20-0 lead up until almost seven minutes left in the game, and then Heritage made a strong push for a comeback led by third string senior QB Cohen McElligott and senior Anthony Stanley. McElligott accounted for all three HHS touchdowns in the fourth with one passing to Stanley and two rushing. Heritage found its new starting QB.
Senior running back Deonta Clark Jr. compiled over 140 yards rushing and sophomore Cedric Clark had a great day on the ground as well.
Rockdale's defense played extremely well up until the final minutes of the fourth quarter.
Quotes from the game
On Deonta Clark
"He still not using his eyes right now. He could've had two or three more touchdowns. He keep going inside cutting against the grain when he should be pumping outside, but he works hard and he made some big plays for us. So did Cedric Clark, put the big running back in and he broke some long runs. He might've got over 100 yards I'm not sure, but overall I think we played well. Fourth quarter, we had some missed tackles by our cornerbacks and we lost containment all night and that hurt us on defense. But the defense was busting butt all night, man. I hate to let [them] get those points late in the game, but it is what it is. We got the ‘W.'
On Cedric Clark
"Cedric, we had to get him in shape. He's a big time baseball player and all summer he played with the travel league out there in Cobb County and we let him do so because he's a baller. Once he came back from baseball, he had to learn the plays because he's only a 10th grader. He started in varsity at outside linebacker most of the season last year, so we put him on offense. He had to learn the system because he missed the whole summer, but once big boy get rolling he gon' be hard to bring down."
On Rockdale's five turnovers
"They were prepared for this game, they just didn't stay focused man. I don't think it was jitters, it was just a lack of focus and on defense everybody got an assignment and you can't miss your assignment, and we did a lot of that tonight."
On the defensive collapse
"The defensive line started to get a little wore down. A lot of them were playing both ways and they started to get a little wore down. We weren't getting that pressure on the quarterback like we were early on. We had some missed tackles and the quarterback made some long runs on third down. If we get out there and make the play, we're good to go, but we'll make up on that. Just gotta condition them a little more and they gotta stay focused."
On Heritage's offense
"We're trying to find some sort of rhythm on offense, we struggled all night. Cohen went in and did a couple things, got the ball out there to No. 3, Anthony and Anthony does what he does and got us back into the thing. If we'd just had a little more time I think we could've won the thing. No harm done, we're in brand new territory. We've got 10 new starters on defense, we've got seven new starters on offense. I looked out there one time we had about six sophomores on the field on offense. We're just so, so young we probably gotta take out some sort of permission slips to have the kids out after dark. That's how young we are. Our kids worked hard, they're great, great youngsters. They worked hard and our coaches work hard, so we're fine. we're happy with what we've got. I think we found out who our starting quarterback's gonna be and he came in and just did a great job. Cohen's a very steady, steady hard-working kid and we're gonna move forward with him being our starting quarterback."
On getting the ball to Anthony Stanley
"We called a lot of things to him, but it never got there. We know who butters our bread and we know where we gotta get the ball to, we just didn't do a good enough job of getting it to him tonight. We're gonna be a little more creative and find a way to get him the ball more because he's electric.