The 10-6A season has been anything but predictable through the first three weeks and that continued on Friday, when an unexpected storm center was just close enough to cause the start of Rowlett’s game against South Garland to get delayed.
Fortunately for the Eagles, it was not a sign of things to come, as they took control early and put away the Colonels for a 44-28 victory at Homer B. Johnson Stadium.
Rowlett (3-3) improves to 3-0 in 10-6A and finds itself alone atop the standings as the only undefeated district team.
“We won, which is the biggest thing,” Rowlett head coach Doug Stephens said. “There are a lot of things we need to do better. We made a lot of mistakes, but the biggest thing is like I said, we won, which puts us in charge of our own destiny and that’s the main thing.”
The Eagles opened district with a pair of nerve-racking one-point victories over Naaman Forest (7-6) and North Garland (27-26) but could breathe a little easier in the fourth quarter on Friday.
A big reason for that was their ability to generate big plays, something that has been lacking for much of the season.
They set the tone in the opening minute of the game when Alex Routt hit Colton Yarbrough in stride for a 55-yard touchdown to give them a lead they would never relinquish.
Routt broke free for a 51-yard touchdown run later in the first quarter and Yarbrough weaved through the defense on a 71-yard scoring run in the fourth that made it 44-16 to ice it away.
“We had some explosive plays, so that was good, we just have to be more consistent in the execution of our offense,” Stephens said. “And then defensively, we did okay, but once again. This is the first time we’ve been in this situation all year and we need to learn how to handle it in the future, being ahead like this from the start. Hopefully, we’ll gain some experience from that.”
The Routt-to-Yarbrough touchdown happened just 55 seconds into the game and it set the stage for a big opening quarter.
Defensive back Daaron Loveless made a nice play on a tipped ball to intercept a pass in Colonel territory to set up a 38-yard field goal by Jacob Martin to push the lead to 10-0.
South Garland got on the scoreboard on a 14-yard keeper by Demarcus Duncan, but the Eagles immediately reestablished control, as Routt broke free for his 51-yard run and after forcing a quick three-and-out, they marched 53 yards in eight plays, capped by a 1-yard plunge by D’Wonaye Newton to make it 23-7.
The offenses went quiet in the second quarter, with the only score courtesy of a 40-yard field goal by the Colonels’ Giovanni Serrano as time expired to close to within 23-10 at halftime.
Rowlett quickly got back on track in the third quarter. They put together a 60-yard match on their first possession with Yarbrough scoring on a 3-yard run to push the lead to 30-10.
The Eagles then put pressure on the punt, forcing a short kick deep in South Garland territory, and on the very next play, Newton scooted around the left edge for a 12-yard touchdown run to make it 37-10.
South Garland never quit, with Jalil Brown scoring on a 13-yard run for their first points of the second half.
Rowlett ended any hopes of a miraculous comeback two plays later when Yarbrough broke through the line and showed off his speed on the 71-yard touchdown that extended the advantage back to 44-16 with 6:35 left.
South Garland tacked on a couple of late scores. Jaquinton Blalock scored on a 5-yard touchdown run with 52 seconds left and after recovering an onside kick, Duncan hooked up with Ty Key on a 30-yard scoring strike to get to within 44-28, but by that point, the end result was just a formality.
It has not always been pretty, but the Eagles head into their bye alone in first place.
“Once again, the bottom line is the bottom line and that is the W, so we’re really excited about that, but as coaches, we’re looking for perfection and we understand we’re not going to get it, but we need to just keep coaching, keep working with them,” Stephens said. “We’ve had a good two, three weeks of practice, so we’ll get together, do some different things this off week and get back to the grindstone.”