Rockdale comes from behind to earn first state title in 41 years


ARLINGTON - It was the the best of times; it was the worst of times.

And so it went for both the Rockdale Tigers and the Brock Eagles in the Class 3A Division 1 UIL state championship game on Thursday at AT & T Stadium in Arlington. When the final story was told, Rockdale came away with an incredible 45-29 come-from-behind victory that football fans will be talking about for a long time.

In the first 16 minutes of the game, it was the best of times for the Brock Eagles as they scored two touchdowns on just six plays in the first quarter to take a 14-0 lead, and then extended it to 21-0 in the early minutes of the second quarter. Senior running back Dawson Littlepage scored all three touchdowns and it looked like the Eagles were going to fly to a state championship.

But then the Eagles landed, and the worst of times descended on the team from Brock. Led by the outstanding play of senior quarterback Torry Locklin, the Rockdale Tigers overcame the 21-point second quarter deficit, scoring 45 straight points in the final three quarters to lead Rockdale to a 45-29 come-from-behind victory.

It was their first state football title since they beat Childress 23-6 in the 1976 state Division 2A title game.

“We’ve been down several time this season and we’ve played some really bad first halves,” Rockdale Head Coach Jeff Miller said. “We were up down 12-7 at Cameron in the second district game and then in the first couple playoff games we’ve been down way early. We talk about it all the time that we’re not going to panic, I’ll tell them when it’s time to panic. Tonight, I was getting pretty close to telling them.

“We started calling the touchdown plays in the second quarter. We wanted to get those other ones out of the way. We preached all week don’t be too wide-eyed but there’s something to be said walking into this stadium for the first time. Most of our kids have never been to this stadium let alone played in it. Brock played here last week so they weren’t awed by the situation.”

Brock Head Coach Chad Worrell was philosophical afterwards.

“I told the kids, no one expected us to be here. This group of seniors rose up and dealt with some adversity and couple losses and got on a roll in the playoffs and played really well. It hurts right now, but we’re going to look back and appreciate what this team accomplished,” Worrell said. “We knew that had an ability to score on any play. I’ve never seen the momentum swing like that. Once is swung, we were just trying to make some plays.”

But the story of the game was Torry Locklin, as he ran for three touchdowns, threw for another, and caught one from Oklahoma-bound teammate Jaqualyn Crawford to have his fingers in five of the Tigers’ six touchdowns. For his performance, Locklin was voted the Outstanding Offensive Performer of the game.

Locklin’s brilliant performance included touchdown runs of 2, 42, and 3 yards, a touchdown catch of 19 yards from Crawford, and a passing touchdown of 74-yards. For the game Locklin rushed for 259 yards and three touchdowns, threw for 202 yards including one touchdown, and caught one touchdown pass.

“It’s a blessing,” Locklin modestly said. “Forty one years is a long time (since winning a championship). For us to come out here and do what we did is amazing.”

Crawford, who is a future Oklahoma Sooner, had quite a game himself as he ran for a touchdown (41 yards), threw for one (19) and caught one (74) in his final game as a Tiger. He even recovered a fumble and was named the game’s Outstanding Defensive Player of the game.

“It’s not really about me,” Crawford said after the game. “When I play bad, the other 10 guys will pick up for my slack. You just do what you do and don’t think about it too much. I relied on my teammates.

“It means a lot to this community.”

The 12,636 fans who watched the 3A Division 1 title game at AT & T Stadium saw an incredible turnaround, as Brock looked unbeatable in the first 15 minutes of the game, rushing to a 21-0 lead with 11:22 to play in the second quarter. Behind three touchdown runs from Brock’s Dawson Littlepage, the game game looked just about over. That’s when Locklin and Crawford took over.

Locklin began the comeback with a two-yard touchdown run with 8:38 left in the game. Two minutes later, Crawford scampered 41 yards on a nine second drive to make it 21-14. A few minutes after that, Crawford threw a 19-yard touchdown pass to Locklin on a 40 second drive, and suddenly the score was knotted at 21.

Then just two minutes later Locklin delivered the dagger on a 50-second drive throwing a 74-yard bullet to a streaking Crawford down the sideline to stun the Eagles at the 1:21 mark of the second quarter. In seven minutes, the Tigers went from the vanquished to the victors, leading 28-21 at halftime.

In the third quarter, it was Locklin again as he broke a beautiful 42 -yard run to make it  35-21. Following a 26-yard field goal, Locklin ran for his third rushing touchdown of the day when he scampered in from three yards out with just a few minutes left.

The Eagles didn’t quit, however, as they marched for one more touchdown late in the game when Tanner Patino scored and then added the two-point conversion to make the final score 45-29.

At the  start of the game, it was all Brock Eagles as they scored two quick touchdowns on just six plays from scrimmage. On the Eagles’ first drive, they took just 1:19 to put points on the board as Dawson Littlepage sprinted 60 yards on a third-and-five to kick off the scoring. The extra point attempt failed, but an offside penalty gave Nosh Nye another chance at redemption and he converted the extra point.

After stopping Rockdale on a three-and-out, Brock blasted right down the field as Tanner Patino bolted 52 yards to the Rockdale one. Littlepage carried the mail into the end zone for his second touchdown of the game at the 8:23 mark. After the extra point, The Eagles were up 14-0. Brock increased its lead early in the second quarter when the touchdown machine of Dawson Littlepage punched in his third touchdown of the game from two-yards out at the 8:38 mark.

That’s when the eye of the Tigers began their torrid comeback, but not without one incredibly emotional gesture by Rockdale’s Head Coach Jeff Miller.

On the final play of the game Rockdale brought in Gunner Miller, the son of Head Coach Miller.

The moment was poignant, as Gunner has battled and defeated cancer (Ewing’s Sarcoma) but had to give up football in his fight to beat that insidious disease. On the last play of the game, Gunner came in and knelt down on the ball to end the game.

“We were in a victory formation in the state championship game and that means we just won the dang thing,” an emotional Miller said after the game.  “It wasn’t even my idea, it was his teammates. I’m not smart enough to even think of that. They didn’t have to ask me twice.

“We went to the doctor to find out what my wife was going to have in 1999 and when they told us it was a boy, I started balling. I had a lot of things going through my mind, but this moment was one of those things that went through my mind.” 

Locklin lead all rushers with 259 yards on 32 carries, Tanner Patino of Brock rushed for 161 yards on just 15 attempts while his Eagles teammate Dawson Littlepage had 94 yards on 11 carries including his three touchdowns. Quentin Hughes and Tyler Lehmkuhi had a pair of receptions for Rockdale, while Baylor Cupp had one catch for 40 yards for Brock.

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The Tigers’ Luis Iruegas kicked six extra points and had a 26-yard field goal.