It wasn't anything like we expected.
Rockwall and John Tyler combined for 45 first quarter points through their first three games. Both the Yellow Jackets and Lions had averaged 35 points per game.
So, it was a little surprising when neither Rockwall nor Tyler had scored by the end of the first quarter Friday night. Penalties, an untimely step out of bounds and a botched field goal snap kept both teams off the board.
Both sides resembled a car refusing to start. Defensive backs had stalled the ground attack and the passing game was leaking oil.
Rockwall quarterback Jacob Clark had had enough. He punched the ball in the endzone on the first play of the second.
Then the Jackets scored another touchdown. And another... and another.
The Swarm was on. Zero to one hundred.
Rockwall put up 48 unanswered points before the Lions scored with 2:52 in the fourth. Roderick Hawkins' 61-yard touchdown run gave the visiting fans something to cheer about, but it was way too little, way too late.
Rockwall's 48-7 victory in its 11-6A opener wasn't shocking because of the outcome, but rather because of the margin. What was supposed to be a competitive game between the best teams in the district quickly became a nightmare for the boys in blue from east Texas.
Clark completed 12-of-17 passes for 209 yards and two TDs. Four Rockwall receivers hauled in passes for 15+ yards, led by Cameron Crayton (108 yards, 2 TDs) and Jaxon Smith (57 yards). John Tyler QB Devlen Woods completed 7-of-26 passes for 72 yards. He was replaced by K'Lon Warren on the Lions' only scoring drive.
After thwarting Rockwall's attempts to move the ball on the ground early, Tyler's normally stellar defense began to tire. Unable to get off the field, the Lions allowed the Yellow Jackets 251 yards rushing, led by Lo'yer Bailey with 114 yards and three scores on 15 carries. Zach Henry also racked up 100 yards on 15 carries and Chris Evans punched in a late score from the red zone.
But the star of the game was Rockwall's defense, who allowed the Lions only 200 yards of total offense. John Tyler, known for a balanced attack, had rushed for only 54 yards before Hawkins' late scoring run. He more than doubled the Lions rushing total in one play.
Jackets' defensive backs Alston and Anfernee Orji collapsed the pocket multiple times and brought down ball carriers in the backfield. Safety Drew Gladney and cornerback Triston Anderson made multiple timely deflections and gave Woods nowhere to throw.
The Jackets, who entered Friday's game 1-2 after a brutal non-district schedule, showed why their record is not a reflection of their ability. Rockwall made beating a district contender from 90 miles down I-20 look like nothing.
There's venom in this team, and it could carry Rockwall deep into the playoffs given the right draw.
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