Rockwall Eliminates Rangers; Parish Advances

Rockwall's A.J. Blacknall runs past Jesuit defenders during a Class 6A playoff game on Saturday. (Photo: Chris McGathey)
Rockwall’s A.J. Blacknall runs past Jesuit defenders during a playoff game in Wylie. (Photo: Chris McGathey)

By Michael Finnegan / Special Contributor

WYLIE — In a rematch of last year’s area-round playoff game, Rockwall scored 22 unanswered points in the second half to defeat Jesuit 48-27 on Saturday.

Billed as a match-up of high-scoring heavyweights in Class 6A Region II, neither team disappointed; and in spite of the lopsided final score, this contest was anything but one-sided. Before Rockwall (12-0) took over complete control of the momentum in the final quarter, the game featured five lead changes and Jesuit (8-4) led 20-19 at halftime.

The Rangers struck first on their opening possession when Central Florida commit Bo Schneider connected with Garrett Amy for a 32-yard strike for a 7-0 lead with 10:21 left in the first quarter. Schneider put up big numbers in his last game as a Ranger, throwing for 469 yards and three touchdowns.

Rockwall, playing without Class 6A leading rusher Chris Warren (high ankle sprain suffered in Rockwall’s first round victory over Copperas Cove), responded quickly. On their ensuing possession, the Yellowjackets drove the length of the field and evened the score at 7-7 when sophomore quarterback Will Reed found James Taylor from 20 yards out.

From there, it was a back-and-forth battle until Rockwall took over in the final quarter. The two teams combined for 1,123 yards of total offense and 75 points. The difference was that Rockwall came up with more game-changing plays in the game’s final 12 minutes.

“In a game of big plays, they simply produced more of them in the second half”, said Jesuit head coach Brandon Hickman. “Especially their No. 2.”

Hickman was referring to Rockwall’s playmaker Xavier Castille. The senior wide receiver caught seven passes for 172 yards and two touchdowns, and also rushed for 135 yards and another two scores. His last score, a 69-yard romp with nine minutes left in the third quarter, put Rockwall up for good.

“He was dominating”, Hickman said. “He had a huge day for a very good Rockwall football team.”

The game was still very much undecided heading into the fourth quarter, with Jesuit down by only a touchdown at 33-27. However, the Rangers could not find an answer for Rockwall’s punishing rushing attack as three different Rockwall players rushed for more than 100 yards.

Besides Schneider’s big day, three other seniors finished their Jesuit careers in style. Amy finished with 139 receiving yards and a score, and Charlie Eikenberg hauled in 10 passes for 178 yards and two touchdowns. Peter Lynch caught three passes for another 81 yards in his final game.

In the TAPPS state quarterfinals this week:

Parish Episcopal 49, Grapevine Faith 21

In rainy conditions, the Panthers (11-1) used a powerful rushing attack to roll past the Lions (9-3) for the second time this season. Dominic Williams rushed for 245 yards and four first-half touchdowns to lift Parish to a big early lead, then Tom Stewart threw fourth-quarter scoring passes to Xavier Suggs and Dakota Michaels to hold off a late rally by Faith.

Plano Prestonwood 55, Trinity Christian 48

The Panthers (9-3) scored twice in the final 5:02 to beat the Trojans (6-6) in a shootout for the third time in less than a year. Collin Whitaker’s third rushing touchdown of the game put Prestonwood ahead to stay. Nahshon Ellerbe led TCA with 310 rushing yards and four touchdowns, while Christian Hutzler passed for three more scores, including two to Alec Bove.

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