It was a tough night for the Rockdale football team as the Stockbridge Tigers scored early and often to rout the Bulldogs 54-24 in a non-region game on a beautiful night at Tiger Stadium in Stockbridge, Ga.
The loss dropped Rockdale Coach Wendell Early's team to 3-2 on the season. Stockbridge improved to 3-1.
"I'm at a loss for words," said a shell-shocked Coach Early. "I've never experienced anything like this before. The first half we just didn't do anything. We couldn't stop a simple dive play. As coaches, we didn't have them ready to play."
Rockdale received the opening kickoff and started from its own 15-yard line. Brandon Edwards completed a 12-yard pass to senior receiver Kalif Dobson on a third-and-12 play. But, the Bulldog offense bogged down and was forced to punt.
Stockbridge took over on its 30-yard line, and quarterback Malachi Brown immediately completed a 7-yard pass to senior receiver Damar Chanis. On the next play, Brown gave the ball to senior running back Artemus Mitchell who took the ball 64 yards right up the middle for a Tigers touchdown. The extra-point try was no good, but Stockbridge had a 6-0 lead with just 4:02 gone in the first quarter.
Things didn't go any better on Rockdale's next possession as Edwards was intercepted by Tigers safety David Brown on a third-and-six pass.
With the ball on Rockdale's 30-yard line, Stockbridge's Brown threw a beautiful 29-yard pass to wide receiver Jacob Pinch to the one-yard line. Brown called his own number and ran the final yard for another Tigers touchdown. The point-after was good, and Stockbridge led 13-0 with 6:15 left in the first quarter.
Stockbridge's Jairius Shade returned a punt 25 yards to the Tigers 32 at the 3:42 mark of the first period. On the first play, Brown threw what looked like a forward pass to Shade who dropped the ball. Not hearing a whistle, a Rockdale player jumped on the loose ball. The referees ruled Brown's throw was a lateral, and the Bulldogs were in business on the Tigers 15-yard line after a Stockbridge personal foul penalty was tacked on.
Reid ran off-tackle for a yard. And, on second and nine, Reid took handoff, slanted to the right, evaded several Tigers tacklers, cut back to the middle and ran 14 yards for Rockdale's only points of the first half (the extra point try failed). With the score 13-6, the Bulldogs, however, were within seven points with 3:04 left in the first quarter.
It was as close as Rockdale would get.
Shade, who was a headache all night for the Bulldogs, returned the ensuing kickoff 30 yards to give the Tigers excellent field position at their own 43. On the first play from scrimmage, Mitchell took a Brown handoff 56 yards to the house for another rushing touchdown and a 20-6 Tigers lead after a successful point-after attempt.
Mitchell scored his second touchdown of the game just 25 seconds after the Bulldogs cut the lead to seven points. He had touched the ball twice, and run for 120 yards - a mind-boggling 60 yards per carry average.
Rockdale lost 10 yards on its next three downs and had to punt from its own 20-yard line. Shade returned the kick 24 yards to the Bulldog 27 with 1:11 left in the first quarter.
One the first play of the second quarter, Mitchell (remember him?) ran 16 yards straight up the Bulldogs gut for his third touchdown in a bit more than one quarter of play. The point-after was good, and Stockbridge led 27-7 with 11:54 to play before halftime.
On its next possession, Rockdale would endure a bad snap on a fourth and five play. Stockbridge took over on the Bulldogs 40. But, the Rockdale defense stiffened and forced a Tigers punt.
Rockdale had the ball on its own 14-yard line with 7:19 left in the third quarter. But on the second play of the drive, Reid fumbled an Edwards pitchout, and the Tigers recovered the ball on the Rockdale 12-yard line.
One the first play, the Tigers Brown faked a handoff to Mitchell, ran right, cut back up the middle and scampered into the end zone for a touchdown. The extra point was good, and the Bulldogs were down 34-6 at the 6:24 mark of the second quarter.
Stockbridge would add another touchdown less than three minutes later as sophomore tailback Jalen Holston took a handoff and swept around right end for a 39-yard score and a 41-6 Tigers lead.
It would remain 41-6 as both teams headed to the locker room.
Stockbridge had deferred to the second half, which was bad news for the Bulldogs as Mitchell returned the Bulldogs kickoff 54 yards to the Rockdale 45-yard line. Rockdale's defense, which played much more cohesively in the second half, held its ground and only allowed a 42-yard Ramon Castro field goal attempt, which missed wide left.
Later in the third, Rockdale's Edwards threw a beautiful pass to receiver Kenan Johnson on a second down and 20 play. Johnson took the ball to the three-yard line. From there, Steele, in a "Wildcat" formation, plowed the final three yards for the score. Rockdale tried a two-point play, but it was unsuccessful and they trailed the Tigers 41-12 with 55.9 seconds left in the third period.
Any joy on the Bulldogs sideline was short-lived as Stockbridge's Mitchell (do you see a pattern forming?) returned the Rockdale kickoff 91 yards for his fourth touchdown of the game and a 48-12 Tigers lead.
Mitchell would finish the evening with 153 yards rushing on seven carries (a mere 21.8 yards per carry!) with three touchdowns and 145 return yards and a score.
Rockdale would score two "character-building" touchdowns in the fourth quarter. But, Stockbridge added another touchdown, and it was too little, too late for the Bulldogs as they went down by a final score of 54-24.
"We got an off week coming up," Early said. "We'll see what we can do to get them ready for region play. The season starts over again (in region play)."
Lovejoy comes to Reid Stadium October 3. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.