ROCKDALE —Though the Rockdale Tigers sported a perfect record through their first five games, their first real test came Friday night when the Lago Vista Vikings came to visit.
The Tigers passed with flying colors.
Rockdale built an early 17-point lead en route to a 52-28 win, handing Lago Vista its first loss in District 10-3A-I play.
“It was good because everybody has been talking down on us in the rankings,” Tigers running back Cam’ron Valdez said. “They said we haven’t played anybody good. Well, we just played somebody good.”
Rockdale’s first five opponents began the day with a combined record of 4-24, leaving the Tigers (6-0, 2-0) unclear about how good their perfect mark was.
“We didn’t know how good we were because the last three or four weeks have been easier than we needed to be,” Rockdale coach Jeff Miller said. “But we knew (Lago Vista) was really good.”
It was difficult to tell that from the start, though, as Rockdale jumped ahead with a 33-yard field goal by Ross Loth, and touchdown runs of 56 and 1 yard by Valdez in the opening quarter.
The Vikings (5-2, 2-1) began to play better in the second quarter. They put together a 14-play drive on their first possession of the period, ending it with a 10-yard touchdown pass from Buck Pounds to Sam Hurley on fourth-and-goal.
Lago Vista blocked Rockdale’s punt on the ensuing possession and cashed in with an 11-yard touchdown run by Logan Parsons to make it 17-14 with 5:31 left in the half.
“We were starting to doubt ourselves,” Miller said of the situation. “You have to face adversity and how you win close ballgames is the team that handles it best.”
The Tigers handled it with a 67-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, which began with Enrique Rivera handling the kick and tossing it to Kobe Mitchell on a trick play.
“I didn’t know we had it called,” Miller admitted. “It was great execution by our kids. Once Kobe got the handoff, it was pretty much smooth sailing. I was saying we needed to go down and score on the drive. We just did it on the kickoff.”
Rockdale quarterback Jace Robinson connected with Anthony Dansby for a 23-yard touchdown to put the Tigers up 31-14 by halftime.
Rockdale opened the second half with an onside kick, which it successfully recovered, and it took Robinson just three plays to find Loth for a 31-yard touchdown to put the Tigers up 38-14.
“Shifting the momentum was so crucial, and special teams can do that,” Miller said. “Everybody was starting to doubt, and we get the kick return and we flip that momentum.
“We hadn’t practiced that (onside kick) at all. We just put it in yesterday.”
After a turnover on downs on the Vikings’ next possession, Robinson threw to Mitchell for a 9-yard touchdown and a 45-14 lead, and Valdez’s 55-yard touchdown run made it 52-14 a short time later.
“All of our starters are weapons,” said Valdez, who finished with 216 yards rushing. “One can sit out, someone else can make a play. We are all equal.”
Rockdale visits Troy next Friday in a battle for the outright district lead.
“We are hungry,” Valdez said. “It’s like a rivalry with Troy between running backs. They have a good running back. It’s a fun one to play.”
ROCKDALE 52, LAGO VISTA 28
Lago Vista 0 14 0 14 — 28
Rockdale 17 14 14 7 — 52
Roc — Ross Loth 33 field goal
Roc — Cam’Ron Valdez 56 run (Loth kick)
Roc — Valdez 1 run (Loth kick)
LV — Sam Hurley 10 pass from Buck Pounds (Bryce Erickson kick)
LV — Logan Parson 11 run (Erickson kick)
Roc — Kobe Mitchell 67 kickoff return (Loth kick)
Roc — Anthony Dansby 23 pass from Jace Robinson (Loth kick)
Roc — Loth 31 pass from Robinson (Loth kick)
Roc — Mitchell 8 pass from Robinson (Loth kick)
Roc — Valdez 55 run (Loth kick)
LV — Pounds 11 run (Erickson kick)
LV — Gonzo Hidalgo 30 pass from Pounds (Erickson kick)
First downs 21 14
Rushes-yards 56-299 29-227
Passing yards 86 102
Comp.-Att.-Int. 7-20-0 7-19-0
Punts-average 2-16.5 5-25.8
Fumbles-lost 3-0 1-0
Penalties-yards 9-67 7-60
RUSHING — Lago Vista: Pounds 21-150, Parson 13-96, Layne Powers 12-53; Rockdale: Valdez 19-216, Kesean Raven 5-17, Mitchell 3-1, Robinson 2-(-2), Jose Young 1-(-2), team 1-(-3).
PASSING — Lago Vista: Pounds 7-20-0-86; Rockdale: Robinson 7-19-2-102.
RECEIVING — Lago Vista: Hurley 4-58, Hidalgo 1-15, Marquis Pierce 1-10, Jack Hood 1-3; Rockdale: Dansby 2-34, Loth 1-31, Christian Briggs 1-25, Mitchell 1-8, Raven 2-4.