The win improved the Rockets to 10-2 and punched their ticket to the third round for the first time since making back-to-back trips to the quarterfinals in 2014 and 2015. Homewood’s season comes to a close at 6-6.
After a scoreless first period, Rockets running back L.T. Sanders put the visitors on the board midway through the second quarter rushing into the endzone from just inside the Patriot 10 yard line. Kewjan Brown tacked on another redzone score with two minutes remaining in the half to give Gardendale a 14-0 advantage at the break.
Homewood came out of the locker room firing in the 3rd, after rolling the dice on 4th and 11, quarterback Woods Ray capped the Patriots opening drive with a bolt into the endzone to pull within a score.
Gardendale answered back with a scoring drive of their own, capped by another Sanders score, this one from just outside the Homewood 10 to extend the Rocket lead back to a pair of scores, 21-7 with four minutes and change remaining in the 3rd.
Homewood made things interesting in the final stanza as Ray passed for a touchdown cutting the lead to a touchdown with just under a quarter to play. Adam Parker scooped up a Rocket fumble and scampered into the endzone on the next Rocket possession. After the Patriot extra point attempt sailed wide Gardendale held a 21-20 edge.
The Rockets tuned to the ground game on their next drive rolling 80 yards on 12 plays capped by another Brown scoring run from inside the 10.
Up 28-20, Sanders returned to the field and picked up where he left off and strolled for a 65 yard touchdown. His third score of the night effectively put the game on ice for the Rockets.
Ray connected with J.C. Daniel for a 91 yard touchdown with less than a minute remaining to close out the contest.
L.T. Sanders lead the Rockets with 296 yards on 29 carries and three scores, despite being sidelined for a portion of the second half. First year starting quarterback Tyler Nelson finished the night with 75 yards through the air, completing 9-of-15 passes while running for 93 yards on 17 attempts. Ean Nation led the Rocket receiving corps with four receptions for 46 yards.
Homewood signal caller Woods Ray passed for 181 yards, connecting on 10-of-26 throws. Standout running back Mondrel Odell ran for 59 yards on 13 carries.
The Rockets will travel east to for a rematch with region rival and No.1 ranked Clay-Chalkville (12-0) next Friday night. In the teams regular season matchup, the Cougars shut out Gardendale 46-0. Chad Eads Rockets, who are ridding an eight game winning streak, haven’t lost since.