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Unbeaten Rockdale battles Langston Hughes

The miraculous first month turnaround for the Rockdale football team is nearly complete. After last weekend’s 42-21 dismantling of Drew, the Bulldogs have now avenged each of their first three losses from a year ago (county rivals Salem and Heritage were the others).

Now, the Conyers school is going for number four. But this Friday’s road game will be about avenging not just one loss, but a pair to Langston Hughes.

The fifth-year Fairburn school has won 19 games since its inception in 2009, and two come against Rockdale in 2012 on the way to a 10-win season and a trip to the second round of the state playoffs.

The second-round appearance was made possible by a 37-3 victory over Rockdale in a mid-November round one game. That was the last of a program-record eight consecutive victories for the Panthers, and the first was a 28-0 win over Rockdale in week four. That put the Bulldogs at 0-4, and with a 132-14 point differential, but thanks to a respectable 3-4 finish and a 3-0 start to the 2013 season, Rockdale isn’t the pushover it was this time last year.

One reason for the turnaround has been a much-improved defense. Rockdale allowed an average of over 26 points in 2012, including the 65 surrendered in the two losses to Langston Hughes. It’s been a different story this season as the Bulldogs have allowed opponents just 28 points with 21 of them coming in a blowout victory over Drew a week ago.

Langston Hughes looks to be just as formidable as it was a year ago. Following a two-point loss at Creekside on opening night, the Panthers followed with a pair of wins against Luella and Mississippi State commitment Elijah Staley-led Wheeler. The offense could be a problem again for Rockdale as the Panthers are averaging over 28 points.

IF YOU GO

Who: Rockdale Bulldogs (3-0) at Langston Hughes Panthers (2-1)

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

Where: Langston Hughes High School Football Stadium

Last week: Rockdale defeated Drew 42-21; Langston Hughes defeated Wheeler 37-28

Series: Langston Hughes leads 2-0

Last season: Langston Hughes won twice - 28-0 in Conyers September 21 and 37-3 at home in the first round of the state playoffs November 16