- Faith & Family
The mantra should go, “Keeping is more difficult than winning, unless you’re a Rocket.”
Because the Central Rockets, despite another sluggish start, kept their state championship hopes alive with an embarrassing 34-7 defeat of the Northwestern Bulls in the regional semifinals last Friday night at a packed Traz Powell stadium to top a 35-17 district win.
The Bulls (9-3) seemed more composed at the onset of their first regional semifinal since 2010 — an eerily similar season where they loss to Central during the regular season and in the regional semis under then Coach Billy Rolle.
Northwestern kept the Rockets scoreless in the first quarter and their defense severely hindered the Rockets passing game and limited quarterback Keith Reed to 50 yards for the game. The Rockets adjusted and placed the load on their terrific three — senior kicker Emilio Nadelman and junior running backs, Joseph Yearby and Dalvin Cook — who comprised all of the Rockets’ points. That decision allowed the Rockets to jump ahead by 10 on a 28-yard field goal by Nadelman and a 37-yard run by Cook, who finished with 123 rushing yards.
The Bulls fared better statistically finishing with 126-passing yards, including their only score of the game on a 50-yard pass from senior quarterback Randy Jones, Jr. to junior receiver Jabari Dowling. But the Bulls struggled on the ground largely due to the absence of senior running back Darius Tice, who left the game in the first half and did not return. Tice, who added only 22 yards, was the Bulls leading rusher heading into the game and averaged 100 yards this season.
The Rockets capitalized on Tice’s absence and scored four consecutive and unanswered times in the second half including a 15-yard touchdown run from Yearby and another Nadelman field goal. Cook finished with two additional touchdowns.
The Rockets will face Palm Bay High School in Melbourne Friday, November 25th at 7:30 p.m.
By Akilah Laster