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Rockdale crumbles against Panthers

— It was not a good homecoming for the former Bulldogs as Rockdale had a hard time throwing the ball and an even harder time running the ball in their 28-0 loss to Langston Hughes on Friday.

The Bulldogs (0-4) running game consisted of nine net yards on 20 carries and 29 passing yards as they completed three passes on 21 attempts. Of Rockdale’s 20 running plays, half were for no gain or negative yardage. Their longest run was a 12-yard run by quarterback Willie Hardeman on a broken play.

“We have to go back to the drawing board. We have young linemen that are still trying to find their way through this varsity team,” Rockdale head coach Venson Elder said. “We have to get in the weight room to get stronger and keep fighting.”

Rockdale’s defense did a good job against the Langston Hughes (3-1) running game for most of the game rushing as they ran for 76 yards on 31 carries. Five of their runs accounted for 73 yards.

However, they had trouble stopping the Panthers passing game as they completed 12-of-22 passes for 223 yards including touchdown passes of 20, 28, 29 and 37 yards.

“Our starting safety was not in the game for reasons I don’t want to discus. We had to make a decision and we had backup safeties in and they just didn’t have the experience,” Elder said.

The Bulldogs had a couple of unconventional plays with a pair of quick-kick punts on third down. The first one came on their first possession as they were facing a third and 11 from their 39. The second occurred in the fourth quarter with the ball on the 5-yard line on a third and 10.

“We were pinned deep in our territory and we didn’t want to take a chance on giving up a safety or a cheap score,” Elder said. “We saw they were keeping their safeties up tight so we took advantage of it trying to flip the field a little bit.”

The Panthers also took advantage of several Rockdale penalties including three for first downs, They also gained 30 yards on a pair of unsportsmanlike conduct dead ball calls.

“You have to understand what these kids are coming from. We had to break this whole program down now we have to build it back up,” Elder said. “They’re frustrated, they’ve lost 13 games in a row. A couple of them lost their heads and we’ll deal with it but that’s not something that normally happens with this team.”