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The Rockwood Tigers showed no ill effects of last week’s heartbreaking overtime loss to Oneida, as John Webb’s squad bounced back Friday night with a 29-6 victory at Wartburg.
“We were concerned about how the team would responded after such a tough game last week but we did okay,” Tiger head coach John Webb said. “I thought our defense played well tonight and we’re getting better as a team. There’s still a lot to do, but I’m pleased with how we played tonight.”
The key for Rockwood on Friday was controlling the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. The Tigers picked up 21 first downs on the night compared to nine for Wartburg. Six of Wartburg’s first down came on their final possession of the night when the outcome had been determined.
Rockwood also nearly doubled Wartburg in the number of plays ran on offense, 73-38. Most of Rockwood’s snaps were on the ground as the Tigers ran the ball 64 times for 291 yards. Rockwood out-gained Wartburg in total yardage, 323-117.
“I thought we did a good job for the most part,” Webb said. “Drake (Long) did a good job running the ball and I thought (quarterback) Jarrod Neerman played well. The lines also did a good job.”
While the Tigers controlled the game for the most part, they did have trouble finishing drives. In the first quarter, the Tigers had 116 yards of total offense, but turned the ball over twice on downs, first at the 30 and the second at the Bulldog five.
Turning the ball over at the five didn’t hurt as Neerman picked off a Bulldog pass three plays later to give the Tigers the ball at the Wartburg two.
Jason Gaus scored two plays later on a one-yard run then Neerman ran in the conversion to give the Tigers an 8-0 lead with 9:11 left in the first quarter.
The Tigers added to their lead on their next possession, marching 73 yards in 12 plays with Long scoring on a two-yard run.
Long was busy in the drive as he carried the ball eight times for 52 yards.
Hunter Grant added the PAT to give the Tigers a 15-0 lead with 2:02 left in the half.
Rockwood got the ball one more time in the first half and drove inside the 20 before running out of time.
The Tigers opened the second half with a long march to the end zone. Starting from their 35, Rockwood put together a 14-play drive that ate up 7:46 off the third period clock. Thirteen of the 14 plays were runs with Tristan Ewing scoring from two yards out.
Grant added the PAT to make the score 22-0.
Rockwood’s defense would put their final points on the board as Grant picked off a Bulldog pass and raced 60 yards to the end zone to make the score 29-0 with 2:57 left in the contest.
Rockwood had another chance to score on their next possession, but Grant missed a 24-yard field goal to end a 15-play drive.
Wartburg avoided the shutout on their final possession when Alex Bunch found the end zone from two yards out to cap a 13-play, 80-yard drive.
Long led Rockwood on the night with 130 yards rushing and one TD on 20 carries. Neerman was next in line with 50 yards on 11 attempts. Neerman also had 32 yards passing.
Dalton Phillips led Wartburg with 24 yards on eight carries. Justin Durham added 17 yards rushing and 25 yards passing.
Wartburg (0-1) hits the road Friday night when they travel to Oneida (2-0) for their first District 4-A contest.
Rockwood (1-1) will take another short road trip this week when they travel to Harriman (1-1) in what will be the 94th all-time meeting between the Blue Devils and Tigers. Friday’s contest is also the District 3-A opener for both teams.
“It’s one of the oldest rivalries in the state and if you can’t get up for this then something’s wrong,” Webb said. “Harriman’s playing better this year and we’ll have to be ready.”
Rushing- Long 20-130 with 1 TD, Ewing 6-24 with 1 TD, C. Domon 6-26, Kilby 9-34, Gaus 3-5 with 1 TD, Neerman 11-50, Malicoat 4-8, Van Patten 3-12, Abbott 1-2, Domon 1-0.
Passing- Neerman 3-8 for 32 yards, Team 0-1.
Receiving- Springs 1-20, Grant 1-8, Long 1-4.