Friday, 16 April 2021 16:21

Rockets defeat Cavaliers, advance to title game

Written by
Rate this item
(2 votes)
Ahujujuan Ewing (4) had seven carries for 87 yards a score against Cordova. Ahujujuan Ewing (4) had seven carries for 87 yards a score against Cordova. Deon Cranford - The Richmond Observer.

CORDOVA — After opening its season with a 34-0 home loss to rival Hamlet Middle, the Rockingham Middle School football team knew that it needed a win at Cordova Middle on Wednesday if it wanted any chance of redemption.  

After taking a week off, a more synergetic Rockets team came out of the spring break and earned a 22-6 road victory over the Cordova Cavaliers.

“Practice times are shorter and we didn’t get to scrimmage anyone this year which hurt us against Hamlet,” said Rockingham head coach Larcoy McRae.  “Getting our timing worked out on offense was our biggest problem, but we finally got our team chemistry together.”

One major contributor to the Rockingham victory was Ahujujuan Ewing.  The eighth grade running back was barely a presence in the loss two weeks ago, but finished Tuesday’s game with seven carries for 87 yards and a touchdown. Ewing danced around Cordova defenders and broke numerous tackles showing signs of the greatness that is often associated with the orange and black.

Joining Ewing on the stat sheet was Rockingham quarterback Dillon Veach, who was 5-of-11 passing for 97 yards and two touchdowns.

Rockingham took hold of the momentum early when Jason Robinson returned the opening kickoff 31 yards to the Cordova 45-yard line. After the Rockets gained nine yards on the first two plays, Veach connected with Robinson for a 34-yard catch and run to the Cordova 2-yard line. 

Two plays later, Veach put it in the air again, this time finding Keonta Pegues in the end zone. The PAT attempt was blocked, but the Rockets took an early 6-0 lead just three minutes into the game. 

After a three-and-out from the Cavaliers, the Rockets went to work again from their own 40-yard line. Rockingham put together a six-play, 60-yard scoring driving capped by a 25-yard touchdown run from Ewing.  Joe Parsons used his size to push his way into the end zone for the two-point conversion, and the Rockets led 14-0 with 7:37 remaining in the second quarter.

After Cordova and Rockingham each went three-and-out on their next possessions, Cordova finally found some offensive success. Rockingham’s punt was shanked, setting up the Cavaliers on the Rocket 33-yard line.

The Cavaliers used six running plays to get to the end zone with Kmauri Morgan, Jackson Hamilton, Gonzalo Gonzalez, and Lashon Goodwin each carrying the ball at least once during the drive. Goodwin finished it off with a 12-yard touchdown run, breaking several tackles along the way and getting the home team on the board. The two-point conversion attempt failed, but Rockingham’s lead was cut to 14-6 with 45.9 seconds left until halftime.

“The biggest thing we have to work on is tackling,” McRae shared.  “We’re getting to the ball, but we’re not finishing.”

Rockingham’s defensive struggles carried over into the opening moments of the second half, but quickly corrected course. Cordova started the third quarter with an 11-play drive, converting a third down and a fourth down along the way.  Just as it looked as though the Cavaliers would strike again, they were tagged with a false start penalty and then lost six yards on a fumbled snap.  On third down, Rockingham’s Jason Gainey and Cooper McDonald teamed up to sack Goodwin, setting up a 4th-and-30 at the Rocket 48-yard line.

Despite running nearly a dozen plays and eating up over seven minutes off of the third-quarter clock, the Cordova drive, which started at the Rockingham 46-yard line, actually moved backward two yards forcing the Cavaliers to punt.

Robinson, who finished the afternoon with 123 all-purpose yards for the Rockets, returned the ensuing punt 28 yards to the Cordova 45-yard line.  It took just five plays for the Rockets to make another visit to the end zone. Veach finished the drive with a 30-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open Robinson with 6:22 remaining in the ball game. Parsons once again ran in the conversion attempt and the Rockets were in control at 22-6.

After another Cordova three-and-out, McRae was content to just run out the clock on Rockingham’s final possession, but added some additional excitement to the game when he sent in seventh grader Logan Staton with about a minute remaining.

Staton, who was shorter than the other players on the field, picked up five yards on two carries on the final two plays of the game to the delight of his teammates who cheered him on from the sideline. 

"Logan is our smallest guy and hardest worker," McRae said smiling.  "He's not the biggest guy on the team, but he has the biggest heart.  We knew if we got a chance to get him in the game, we were going to get him in."

Rockingham’s defense limited the Cavaliers to just 59 total yards of offense, all on the ground.  Goodwin led the way for Cordova with 43 yards on 11 carries.

Veach’s five passes found their way to four different Rocket receivers.  Robinson caught two passes for 64 yards and a touchdown, Pegues had a single catch for two yards and a score, Ewing added a 23-yard catch and Maddox Leviner contributed an 8-yard grab during Rockingham’s fourth-quarter scoring drive.

Rockingham (1-1) will meet Hamlet (2-0) at Raider Stadium for the county championship game on Wednesday, April 21 at 6 p.m.

Last modified on Friday, 16 April 2021 16:39