BELTON — Every now and then, a team can overcome a turnover, two, or even three. But seven with a defending state champion across the way?
“You can’t do it,” longtime Rockdale Tigers head coach Jeff Miller said.
Grandview scored two defensive touchdowns, three of Rockdale’s giveaways occurred when it was on the verge of potential points and the Zebras began defense of their Class 3A Division I crown Friday night with a 42-7 bi-district victory over the Tigers at Tiger Field.
“We had the ball in there in the red zone and didn’t get anything out of it, and we made some really, really negative plays that just didn’t really put us in position to be as successful as we thought we were going to be,” Miller said. “Obviously, the score of this ballgame is not indicative at all of what kind of football game this was. But, either way, we’re done.”
Grandview (10-1), which advanced to play Winnie East Chambers (10-1), got a 42-yard interception return for a touchdown in the first quarter from Austin Boyd and a 10-yard fumble return for a score in the fourth by Dametrious Crownover.
In between, the Tigers (8-3) turned over the ball via an interception in the end zone and another at the Zebras 5, and lost a fumble across the goal line for a touchback. The area’s top statistical quarterback entering the postseason, Jace Robinson (10-of-18, 128 yards passing), and Rockdale’s offense were limited to 298 total yards while being held scoreless for the game’s final 39 minutes.
Dane Jentsch, Luke Ferguson and Clayton Hale had the other interceptions for the Zebras. With the defensive scores aside, Grandview exchanged the other takeaways for 14 more points.
“We knew they were going to be good. We knew they had a couple guys that had some scholarship offers, and we just tried to shut them down the best we could,” said Boyd, who also had five receptions for 113 yards and a TD. “We just did our job.”
Rockdale outgained Grandview 214-161 in the first half but had three drives end without points after having first downs at or inside the Zebras 20-yard line.
Boyd returned Robinson’s first of three interceptions 42 yards for Grandview’s 7-0 advantage about 5 minutes into the contest.
After Jentsch mishandled a Tigers punt, running back Cam’ron Valdez’s 1-yard TD burst pulled Rockdale even with 3:09 to go in the first quarter. Jentsch atoned for his miscue on the Zebras’ ensuing drive, hitting Boyd on a deep slant for a 25-yard score.
Two plays following Jentsch’s interception in the end zone, the quarterback dialed up Ferguson for a 14-yard TD completion and a 21-7 advantage.
Ferguson’s interception at his team’s 5 thwarted Rockdale’s next possession. The Tigers, though, got the ball back deep in Zebras territory and had it at the 2 for an untimed down at the end of the first half after a defensive pass interference penalty.
Valdez, who finished with 158 yards on 29 carries, was stuffed for a yard loss, and Grandview’s 14-point cushion stood at the break.
“This senior class, a lot of them have been on varsity since they were sophomores. They have a lot of playoff games under their belt,” said Zebras coach Ryan Ebner, whose team totaled 308 yards. “It was kind of business as usual. They have been here before and I thought they handled it great.”
Ferguson’s 15-yard scoring reception, Crownover’s fumble return and Tremayne Gullatte’s 1-yard TD run accounted for Grandview’s second-half output.
“They are the defending state champions for a reason,” said Miller, whose team won it all in 2017. “They didn’t graduate anybody last year, so they are a really good football team.”
GRANDVIEW 42, ROCKDAKLE 7
Rockdale 7 0 0 0 — 7
Grandview 14 7 7 14 — 42
Gra — Austin Boyd 42 interception return (Nathaniel Baker kick)
Roc — Cam’ron Valdez 1 run (Chris Olvera kick)
Gra — Boyd 25 pass from Dane Jentsch (Baker kick)
Gra — Luke Ferguson 14 pass from Jentsch (Baker kick)
Gra — Ferguson 15 pass from Jentsch (Baker kick)
Gra — Dametrious Crownover 10 fumble return (Baker kick)
Gra — Tremayne Gullatte 1 run (Baker kick)
First downs 15 19
Rushes-yards 35-133 45-170
Passing yards 175 128
Comp.-Att.-Int. 9-15-0 10-19-4
Punts-average 4-24.75 3-32
Fumbles-lost 3-1 4-3
Penalties-yards 7-45 9-90
RUSHING — Grandview: Gullatte 18-90, Jentsch 11-38, Elijah Golden 2-9, Rafe Kirkpatrick 3-(-1), Garrett Holmes 1-(-3); Rockdale: Valdez 29-158, Kesean Raven 4-23, Kobe Mitchell 1-(-3), Jace Robinson 11-(-8).
PASSING — Grandview: Jentsch 9-15-0-175; Rockdale: Robinson 10-18-3-128, Mitchell 0-1-1-0.
RECEIVING — Grandview: Boyd 5-113, Ferguson 2-29, Crownover 1-21, Michael Lehnhardt 1-12; Rockdale: Anthony Dansby 3-51, Raven 3-46, Landon Towns 2-22, Valdez 1-6, Christian Briggs 1-3.