BELTON — Momentum was a fickle mistress in the third-round Class 3A Division 1 playoff clash between Rockdale and West.
The Rockdale Tigers wooed her in the second half and claimed a 31-21 victory over the Trojans on Friday night at Tiger Stadium.
Rockdale (10-3) forced four turnovers in the second half and Oklahoma-commit Jaquayln Crawford scored a pair of touchdowns as the Tigers erased a 21-14 halftime deficit.
West (10-3) defeated Rockdale, 42-24, in the season-opener for both teams back in September. But Crawford missed that game with an injury. He eventually made an impact in the playoff rematch.
Crawford ran five yards for a touchdown from the Wildcat formation to tie the game at 21 midway through the third quarter.
Rockdale kicker Luis Iruegas booted a 37-yard field goal to push the Tigers into the lead with 8:36 remaining in the fourth quarter.
Then Crawford helped knock out West with a 14-yard touchdown catch-and-run from quarterback Torry Locklin with 7:30 left.
“It’s tough to prepare for and it’s tough to contain (Crawford) for the entire game,” West coach David Woodard said. “We made some good plays in the first half and were able to do some things and then he got loose a couple of times in the second half.”
Rockdale advances in the 3A Division 1 playoffs to play Teague at 7:30 Friday at Waco ISD Stadium.
West rebounded from a rough start to create a huge momentum swing late in the first quarter.
Rockdale surged to a 14-0 lead after the Tigers scored on two of their first three drives. Locklin completed four of his first five passes to fuel the Tigers’ scoring in the first quarter.
Locklin hit tight end Tyler Lehmkuhl for a 45-yard gain to the West 1, setting up the Rockdale QB’s second one-yard touchdown run of the opening quarter.
But that’s when West quarterback Nathan Gerik dramatically changed the complexion of the first half in West’s favor.
Gerik found a hole and burst into the Tigers’ secondary. He raced past the Rockdale defense for a 56-yard touchdown.
Apparently inspired by their QB’s long TD sprint, the Trojans defense stuffed Rockdale on its next possession.
West linebackers Jarek Rozyskie and Clayton Wilson converged on Locklin to sack him for a six-yard loss on first down. Locklin then threw two straight incomplete passes, setting up a punt from the Tigers’ 16.
Trojan defensive back Preston Johnson broke through the line and blocked the punt and defensive back Kayman Harold recovered at the Rockdale 5.
Two plays later, West running back Jacob Bates bulled into the end zone for a five-yard touchdown to tie the game five seconds into the second quarter.
“We handled adversity real well and made a couple of big plays that got us right back into it,” Woodard said. “So just really proud of the way that we never quit and the way we fight through everything.”
The West defense took the ball away from Rockdale again later in the second when a wave of Trojans defenders separated Locklin from the ball and Johnson recovered at the Tigers’ 13.
This time it took four plays, but Gerik made the takeaway count as he ran for three yards on fourth-and-1 from the Rockdale 4 and then around the left end of the line for the one-yard touchdown.
Gerik’s second scoring run of the first half helped West take a 21-14 lead to the break.