Tigers clinch playoff berth with 17-8 win over Rockdale

— Alcovy took advantage of several Rockdale miscues to clinch a one of four Region 2-AAAAAA playoff spots with their 17-8 win on Friday at Homer Sharp Stadium.

The Bulldogs (2-7, 2-3) put the first points on the board scoring on the 68-yard pass from Zuri Minnifield to Tajee Steele four minutes into the first period. But the game belonged to the Alcovy (4-5, 3-2) defense after that.

While Minnifield threw the ball for 180 yards with 13 completions on 25 attempts, he was pressured a lot of the evening being sacked four times. Getting the sacks were Okon Godwin and Ryan Adams. Of Rockdale’s 23 running plays, seven stayed behind the of scrimmage.

“I thought after that (Rockdale touchdown) the defense bowed their back and made some outstanding plays,” Alcovy head coach Kirk Hoffman said.

Alcovy’s defense forced the Bulldogs out go three-and-out four times, forced the ball to be turned over on downs twice while stopping them on a Godwin interception.

Both of Alcovy’s touchdowns were aided by Rockdale penalties. The first touchdown, a 22-yard pass from Cornell White to Jaylin Penny three minutes into the second quarter, was helped by a pass interference call putting the ball inside the Rockdale 30-yard line.

Alcovy got a second chance to keep the ball moving on a roughing the punter call when the defender reached out and caught Rysan Richardson’s face mask giving the Tigers a first down. Following a second pass interference call, White connected with Nanpon Ross on a 17-yard pass with 58 seconds left in the opening half to put Alcovy up 14-6.

“The ball hadn’t bounced our way much. I’ll tell you what, I take my hat off to some of these kids,” Hoffman said. “We’re just so banged up. I told them that if they’re better than us than let them be better than us but just play hard, and they did.”

Rockdale, who closed the gap with a safety when the Alcovy punter stepped on the back line, had several chances to get back into the game but the Tigers defense continued to hold its ground.

Alcovy made it a two-possession game on a 33-yard Richardson field goal with less than three minutes in the game. Richardson again gave the Tigers the edge on the ensuing kickoff. A prefectly-placed lob kick allowed Leroy Robinson to reach the ball before Rockdale giving the Tigers the ball on the 27-yard line.

“What a job the special teams did. With Rysan’s kicks and our coverage and things. I couldn’t ask for anything better,” Hoffman said. “The biggest thing is that for once we finished the game off. We had two others that we didn’t finish off and it put us in a jam. Offensively, we weren’t great but we got better.”