by Joseph W. Gex II, Contributing Writer
The Saint Stanislaus Rock-A-Chaws used a fourth quarter surge to dispatch the Tylertown Chiefs 23-6 ‘between the walls’ on Friday night in a key Division 3A matchup. SSC (5-1, 1-0) used the leg of Evan Noel for three field goals and a determined rushing attack in the fourth quarter to score twice and break up a close game in the Rocks’ division opener. This was the first meeting between SSC and Tylertown on the gridiron.
The Rocks opened the game on offense. Ian Gonzalez Rioz connected with Jaxon West for a 19-yard gain before using his legs to pick up another 18 yards before the drive stalled.
The Chiefs (1-6, 0-2) got consecutive first downs on an 11-yard pass play followed by a 21-yard gain on the ground before Keonnis Davis was sacked by Jacon Bradford, Spencer Cornell, and Charlie Brown for a 15-yard loss that stalled their drive.
SSC took over at their own 30 yard-line and put together a 15-play drive that took 9:22 off the clock and ended with a 38-yard field goal by Noel with 8:42 left in the first half. The kick made the score 3-0.
The Chiefs were unable to produce anything and punted away to SSC.
The Rocks resumed at their own 45 yard-line, but also could not muster any significant progress. Noel attempted a 51-yard field goal that sailed wide left leaving the score 3-0 with 5:18 left in the half.
The Chiefs were still unable to move the Rock defense and turned the ball over on downs after a failed fake punt.
SSC took over at midfield. Rioz hit Ethan Galloway for a gain to the Chiefs’ 32 yard-line. Noel took the field and split the uprights for a 49-yard field goal with 1:15 left to play in the half to make the halftime score 6-0.
Chesley Rhodes intercepted a Chiefs’ pass and returned it 50 yards on the ensuing drive; however, the Rocks fumbled the ball back to Tylertown to end the half.
Tylertown continued to struggle on offense to open the second half of play and punted away to SSC.
Another 19-yard pass from Rioz to West highlighted the drive before Noel trotted out to nail his third field goal of the game. With 5:44 left in the third quarter, Noel converted on a 49-yard field goal to make the score 9-0.
Tylertown finally found success on the ensuing drive, and it took just one play. Davis hit Tyquan Ginn in stride who reached into the air with one hand and palmed the football before sprinting 80 yards to the endzone untouched with 5:30 left in the third quarter. Andrew Whitney halted the two-point conversion attempt by sacking Davis for a loss on the free play leaving the score 9-6.
The two teams traded possessions before SSC found the endzone for the first time in the game. The Rocks took over with 11 seconds left in the third quarter and it took just three plays. Rioz called his own number three consecutive times for gains of 10, 8, and 28 yards with the final carry going for a touchdown with 11:20 left to play in the game. Noel converted the PAT to make the score 16-6.
On the fifth play of the ensuing drive, Henry Nunmaker forced a fumble that was recovered by Galloway at the Rock 42 yard-line.
With Rioz and Isaiah Haynes alternating carries on the nine-play drive, Haynes capped the drive with a 26-yard touchdown run, the first of his career, which was set into motion on a masterful seal block by Ben Cappel with 4:26 left to play. Noel converted the PAT to make the final score 23-6.
SSC head coach Tim Lala commented, “We left points on the board early in the game which we need to find a way to convert if we want to continue to be successful. It is aways good to see Isaiah (Haynes) carry the football successfully for us. He has stayed the course and improved each week. I am happy for all his hard work that he has put forth. We got a field goal early in the third period kicking into the wind that helped keep us ahead when Tylertown found the endzone. We continued to punch throughout the game, and we were finally successful in the fourth quarter. Our offensive staff did a great job going back to some of our old stuff to get things going. Now, we hit the road to face St. Patrick. We have to continue to get more focused on the little things and correct our mistakes, if we want to continue to be successful. This is the first time back in division play for St. Patrick in a couple of years, so we are excited about the challenge.”
The Rocks were paced by Ian Gonzalez Rioz who carried 18 times for 130 yards and touchdown. He also threw for 94 yards for 224 total yards. Haynes added 20 carries for 103 yards and a touchdown. It was the first 100-yard game for Haynes in his career. Galloway led the receivers with 5 catches for 54 yards.
On defense the Rocks were led by Spencer Cornell with 10 total tackles including 3 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks. Andrew Whitney and Jacon Bradford each had 7 stops with Whitney adding 1.5 sacks and Bradford 2 hurries. Charlie Brown pitched in 6 tackles with a sack and 4 hurries.
The Rocks travel to St. Patrick tonight to take on the Fighting Irish in a Division 8-3A contest. Last week the Irish fell to West Marion 40-7. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.