By Hale Hughes
CYPRESS—This area playoff game was dramatic from the onset as Woodville's CJ Wooten returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown within a mere 14 seconds into the game. Woodville's power runner Zack Martin ran in the two-point conversion to give the Eagles the early lead and put Rockdale on notice that Woodville was here to win.
Woodville began the game with huge momentum as the Eagle defense forced a three and out for the Tigers.
A miserable punt by Rockdale gave the Eagles tremendous field position at the Tiger 32-yard line. It looked like the Eagles were sure to go up early by two touchdowns, but the Tiger defense held, forcing the Eagles to settle for a field goal.
Tyler Greer's kick was good and gave the Eagles an 11-0 lead with 6:56 left in the first quarter.
Woodville's success on their two opening drives seemed to wake up the Tigers.
Rockdale pieced together some momentum with a big run, mixed in with some of their passing attack and got on the board at the 4:47 mark of the first quarter to close the gap 11-7, still in favor of the Eagles.
That offensive momentum for the Tigers translated to some defensive momentum as well as Rockdale stopped the Eagle offense on their next possession.
Woodville punted and the Tigers took the ball and drove on the Woodville defense before a fumble stopped Rockdale.
Woodville had another offensive opportunity but was stopped quick on the possession. Rockdale returned the punt to the Woodville 25-yard line to give the Tigers their best starting field position with just over a minute in the first quarter.
Rockdale took the ball and gained their first lead of the game in the early part of the second quarter with a TD pass across the middle making the score 14-11 in favor of the Tigers.
CJ Wooten was the star for Woodville with his two kickoff returns for touchdowns coupled with two rushing touchdowns delivering four scores for the Eagles on this night.
Wooten appeared to be in video game mode and was the class of the field with his speed. Rockdale simply didn't have an answer for Wooten once he was in the open field. He scored his second kickoff return touchdown on the ensuing kickoff with a 95-yard return to allow the Eagles to immediately retake the lead 17-14 at 10:53 mark of the second quarter.
The Woodville defense held the Tiger offense and forced a punt with Woodville taking over on their own 12-yard line.
Woodville strung together a 13-play, 88-yard scoring drive highlighted by a 38-yard run by Martin that culminated with Wooten scoring around the left side, giving Woodville a 24-14 lead with 4:03 in the second quarter. This would prove to be Woodville's best offensive drive of the game.
Rockdale took over and quickly moved the ball on a five play, 63-yard scoring drive highlighted by two passes both to their tight end, first with a 44-yard pass reception to get the ball down to the 25-yard line and then a 10-yard strike across the middle for a touchdown.
This narrowed the Eagle lead to 24-21 with 2:33 left in the half. The Eagles would take that lead into the halftime break.
The special teams that had kept the Eagles' in the game during the first half had a meltdown in the second half. With two punts blocked and one resulting in a scoop and score for Rockdale, the Eagles were dealt a serious blow to its hopes for making school history by advancing to the regional round.
Rockdale simply rolled in the second half, notching 34 more points against the Eagles. Woodville would add a second half Wooten touchdown, but the outcome was fairly certain at that point, with a final score of 55-30 in favor of the Tigers.
ROCKDALE: The Tiger offense used a sharp passing attack sprinkled with periodic runs to move the ball against the Eagles. Rockdale's offense was slowed at times by the Eagle defense but the Tigers continued to find more success against Woodville as the game progressed.
WOODVILLE: The Eagles' special teams kept pace with the Tiger offense for much of the first half with Wooten returning two kickoffs for scores. The Eagles' two leading rushers for the season, Martin and DaMichael Brooks were kept out of the end zone. Special teams play was disastrous for the Eagles in the second half, with three blocked punts and one returned for a score. The Tigers also were successful against the Eagles with an onside kick late in the game that led to an additional Rockdale touchdown. Woodville had won its previous nine consecutive games, losing only to 4A Madisonville on September 8.
WOODVILLE: The Eagles end their season 9-2. The boys will start their basketball season and join the Lady Eagles who started their season three weeks ago.