Warriors end season with loss on road at Rockwood

Published 12:20 am Saturday, November 6, 2021

BY JASON PERRY
ROANE COUNTY NEWS
It’s become almost a familiar sight in the TSSAA Class 2-A football playoffs when the Rockwood Tigers and Happy Valley Warriors meet.
Friday night’s most recent meeting saw the Tigers impose their will through defense and an unrelenting ground game, beating the Warriors, 40-6 at Civitan Field in Rockwood.
It didn’t take long for Rockwood to get on the board.
The Tigers started the game on their 36-yard line, chewed two and half minutes off the clock with a five-play 64-yard drive highlighted by a 46-yard scamper from Dom Moran.
Pudge Hannibal punched the ball across the goal line from three yards out to make it 6-0.
The Warriors found the aggressive Rockwood defense tough to handle.
Quarterback Reagan Ensor moved the ball for Happy Valley and looked to be building a head of steam in a bid to answer the Tigers.
The drive faltered almost as quickly as it started due to a 15-yard block below the knees call moving the Warriors back and ultimately forcing a punt.
Rockwood scored on its next drive, this one capped by a frenetic run from quarterback Jaiden Hannibal from 22 yards out.
The two-point try was good and with a little over three minutes left to go in the first quarter, the Tigers were pulling away, 14-0.
Problems started to compound for the Warriors.
It only took one play for Jaiden Hannibal to swipe a Happy Valley pass out of the air. The Rockwood speedster zipped down the middle of the field, returning the interception 52 yards for an interception.
The point after kick missed, but it was still enough to put the Tigers up 20-0.
The earlier interception and penalty appeared to take the wind completely out of the Warriors’ sails as they struggled to find footing on both sides of the ball.
Rockwood didn’t have that problem as it had hitched its wagon to the legs of Pudge Hannibal and Dom Moran.
The duo served to keep Happy Valley off balance with their mix of thunder and lightening on the ground.
The Tigers scored once more in the first half when Eric Thurmond ran up the middle of the field for a 23-yard score to make it 23-0.
The second half was much the same story.
A 57-yard interception return from Moran for a touchdown followed by the extra point kick from Hayden MacClaine made the score 33-0, further putting the game out of reach.
One more score a possession later came on a five-yard run from Jaiden Hannibal to put the score at 40-0.
The Warriors finally regained some composure in the fourth frame.
After series of mishaps and penalties pushed Rockwood back to its 28-yard line a bad punt was brought to the Tigers’ seven-yard line.
Andrew Little only needed one play to barrel into the end zone for Happy Valley’s touchdown.
The two-point try was stuffed making the score 40-6.
That’s where it remained as time rapidly expired.