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Shut down, shut out
Bulldogs manage 86 total yards in 6-0 loss to Raiders

CONYERS - Rockdale picked the wrong time of the season to struggle on offense Friday night.

The Bulldogs (4-4) managed only 86 total yards and dropped a 6-0 decision to Habersham Central (5-4) on Homecoming at Reid Memorial Stadium.

The loss severely damages Rockdale's playoff chances in Region 8-AAAA. The Bulldogs will need to win their final two games - at Loganville and then at home against Monroe Area - to have any chance.

Rockdale's problems started on the opening kickoff when Tavarius Williams had trouble handling a low kick. He fumbled at his 9 and Habersham Central recovered at the 5.

However, the Bulldog defense stood tall, stopping Habersham Central's Kevin Ellison on three straight runs.

The Raiders settled for Josh Welborn's 22-yard field goal with 9:46 left in the first quarter to take a 3-0 lead.

Welborn's kick provided the only points in the first half as both defense shut down the opposing offenses. The two offensive units had a combined 91 yards (54 for Rockdale, 37 for Habersham) in the first half.

Rockdale's offense suffered a key loss midway through the second quarter when quarterback Darius Lucas was injured on a 5-yard gain.

Lucas did not return, and it forced the Bulldogs to go with an injured Isaiah Gresham at quarterback the rest of the game. Gresham who opened the season as Rockdale's quarterback, had to come out of the lineup when he suffered a shoulder injury against Cedar Shoals two games ago.

"We had a struggle offensively tonight," Rockdale coach Mike Etheridge said. "We started to move the ball a little bit, but, when Darius went down, it slowed us up. I'm not making any excuses. They play good defense. Offensively, we just have to get better."

After a scoreless second and third quarter, the Raiders added their final points on Sam Cantrell's 37-yard field goal with 11:54 left in the game.

The Bulldogs made only one foray all night into Habersham Central. Gresham's 4-yard on a fake punt kept a drive alive.

Three plays later, he completed his longest pass on the night, a 17-yard strike to Javon Lucas, setting up a fourth-and-4 at the Habersham Central 49.

The Bulldogs only completed 2 of 11 pass attempts for 22 yards. They ran for only 64 yards.

However, Gresham fumbled on the next play, turning the ball over to the Raiders and killing the drive.

Rockdale had one last gasp late in the game, but Habersham Central stopped Williams a yard short of a first down on a fourth-and-3 play at the Bulldog 45.

David Griffin's 22-yard run three plays later sealed the victory for the Raiders, who have won four of their last five games.

Rockdale's defense limited Habersham Central to 129 total yards, all on the ground.

"Our defense busted their butts tonight," Etheridge said.

The Bulldogs have surrendered only 21 points in their last three games.

Jeff Gillespie can be reached at jeff.gillespie@rockdalecitizen.com.