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By GOOSE LINDSAY
The Rockwood Tigers kept their hopes of earning an automatic berth to the TSSAA playoffs alive Thursday night with a 28-6 victory over Midway at Civitan Field.
Rockwood entered Thursday's game against the Green Wave knowing victories in their final three games against Midway, Bledsoe County and Harriman would give them a shot at the No. 2 seed in District 3-A and an automatic postseason berth while a loss would leave the Tigers needing a wild-card spot.
“Our approach is to take it one game at a time and see what happens,” Tiger head coach John Webb said. “I thought we came out and did a good job tonight.”
For Midway, Thursday's loss was their seventh straight after opening the season with a victory. The loss, however, was different as in Midway's other losses, the Green Wave have started slow and finished strong while Thursday the Green Wave scored first but couldn't hold on.
“We started great, but we didn't follow up on it,” Midway head coach Craig Moser said. “We've been starting slow and we wanted a fast start. We did that, but Rockwood did a great job of adjusting. We also did a good job of wrapping up and tackling early but not as much later on.”
Midway's fast start consisted of QB Thomas Viar hooking up with WR Wakon Roberson for 32 yards on the first play of the game. Six plays later Midway ended a seven-play, 65-yard drive when Viar connected with Charles Binger for a 21-yard touchdown to make the score 6-0 with 9:53 left in the opening period.
Midway's PAT was no good.
Rockwood, however, answered just as fast. Davey Templeton ripped off a 47-yard run on the Tigers second play from scrimmage and Rockwood scored two plays later on a five-yard pass from Lucas Jolley to Jeromy Hagermaker to cap a four-play, 65-yard drive.
Jared Breazeale added the PAT to make the score 7-6 with 7:51 left in the first period.
Rockwood's adjustments on defense came on their next possession as the Tigers went primarily man-to-man on Midway's receivers with CB Chris Harness matching up with Roberson.
“They picked us apart that first drive so we went man and put Harness on Roberson whenever possible,” Webb said. “Our line also did a better job of getting pressure on the quarterback.”
The results were phenomenal as Midway did not complete a pass the rest of the game and they had just one first down the rest of the half. Viar was also picked off once and sacked three times during that first half stretch. Two of the sacks came from Ian Walls.
Rockwood's offense, however, also slowed down after their first possession,
The Tigers turned the ball over on downs following a failed fake punt attempt on their second possession then Rockwood fumbled away a punt that gave the Green Wave excellent field position at the Tiger 37.
Midway, however, couldn't capitalize as they also failed to convert a fake punt attempt.
Rockwood seemed ready to score on their next possession as the Tigers marched from their own 34 to the Midway 11 in nine plays, but the Tigers turned the ball over on downs when a fourth-and-two pass from Jolley to Hagermaker fell incomplete.
The biggest play of the half came four plays later as Midway P Charles Binger was forced to run and he was stopped short of a first down.
Rockwood took over at the Green Wave 15 and scored three plays later on a four-yard run from Templeton to make the score 14-6 with 2:25 left in the second period.
The third quarter was all Rockwood.
The Tigers opened the second half with seven-play, 66-yard drive capped by an Inman 16-yard run that made the score 21-6 with 7:43 left in the third period.
Midway did have a good drive going on their first possession of the third period when FB Matt Oliver ripped off a pair of nice runs covering 25 yards, but the seven-play drive ended abruptly when the Tigers recovered a fumble at their own 31 yard line.
Inman found the end zone again five plays later as the senior FB showed off his speed by finding the sideline and outrunning the Midway secondary to the end zone for a 57-yard touchdown.
Breazeale added the PAT to make the score 28-6 with 1:14 left in the third period.
Travis Beasley put an exclamation point on Rockwood's strong third quarter by picking off a Viar pass on the last play of the period.
Inman also picked off a pass in the final period.
Rockwood ended the evening with 321 yards of total offense on 51 plays. All but 11 yards came on the ground as the Tigers rolled up 310 yards rushing on 43 carries.
Inman led the charge with a career-high 143 yards and two touchdowns on 13 attempts. Templeton added 128 yards and one score on 13 carries.
Midway ended the evening with 121 yards on 44 plays.
Viar completed three of 11 passes for 70 yards while Oliver ran the ball nine times for 50 yards.
Both teams step out of district next week. Midway (1-7) hosts Hancock County on Senior Night while Rockwood (6-2) travels to Bledsoe County.
Rushing- Boone 1-7, L. Davidson 13, Viar 8-(-4), Oliver 9-50, Collins 4-11, Henderson 3-3, Allison 1-0, Binger 1-4, Brummitt 3-(-3), Team 2-(-5).
Passing- Viar 3-11 for 70 yards with 1 TD and 3 INTs.
Receiving- Binger 1-16 with 1 TD, Davidson 1-17, Roberson 1-32.
Rushing- Morgan 4-9, Inman 13-143 with 2 TDs, Templeton 13-128 with 1 TD, Beasley 4-(-3), Jolley 2-8, Hagler 2-1, Smith 1-17, Cisson 1-4, Headrick 2-11, Skidmore 1-(-5).
Passing- Jolley 2-8 for 11 yards with 1 TD.
Receiving- Hagermaker 1-5 with 1 TD, Harness 1-6.