The difference in the contest was a point-after kick from a kid who never played before this season — junior WR/DB/K Ben Woodall — as Rockwood edged out the Bulldogs, 7-6.
“Two evenly matched teams and it came down to a point-after kick from a kid who hadn't played before,” Rockwood head coach John Webb said. “Our kids are resilient and we had to be tonight because Hampton played as tough a game as you would expect. That last drive was the key. It enabled us to run the clock out and we are moving on — and that is all that matters.”
Neither team could crack the end zone in the first half with Tigers senior halfback Dylan Williams getting the closest, reaching the 1-yard line before fumbling the ball through the end zone for a touchback.
Rockwood had taken over at the Hampton 29 after a Bulldogs fumble was recovered by Austin Orr. Hampton lost two fumbles in the first half and Rockwood one, and both teams had turnovers on downs.
Hampton's best opportunity came with a drive from its own 5-yard line to the Rockwood 15, but a halfback pass was sniffed out by senior LB Jonathan Gann — resulting in a 14-yard loss. On fourth down, Alex Hardin's pass into the end zone was overthrown and Rockwood ran out the last 1:03 of the half.
The Bulldogs struck on their first possession of the third quarter with senior halfback Lane Potter blasting through the middle at midfield and rumbling 50 yards to paydirt to stake Hampton to a 6-0 advantage.
The Bulldogs’ two-point try failed but Hampton was on top with 5:26 remaining in the third quarter. The Tigers responded by going on their best drive of the game, marching 65 yards on 13 plays and quarterback Nate Brackett going in from the 1.
A key to the drive was an offside penalty on Hampton that gave Rockwood a first down at the 10 on a fourth-down play.
“In a game like this with two teams evenly matched you can't have a mistake,” Bulldogs head coach Michael Lunsford said. “We played a pretty clean game for the most part. A couple of key situations where things don't go your way, that's just part of the game. I felt like if we could have got the ball back, we had an opportunity with Alex to throw the ball a little bit. Our linebackers are kind of small and it gives them some trouble when they run the ball right at them. Give them some time in the weight room and it will be the difference.”
That brought Woodall to the forefront and his PAT kick was down the middle to give the Tigers a slim lead. Brackett's TD run came with 11:11 left in the game and on Hampton's next possession a timely hit by Williams dislodged the ball from freshman Conor Jones.
On third-and-12 from the 38, Hardin's pass to Jones hit the young WR in stride — but Williams blasted him just as he caught the ball and it fell incomplete. The Tigers took possession and were able to run out the clock from there.