CALHOUN — Rockmart was the Region 6-3A champion in 2020, its first year up from Class AA.
Based on the first two weeks of league play this year, the Yellow Jackets look like a good bet to repeat.
Rushing for over 300 yards and outscoring Sonoraville 29-7 in the second quarter Friday night in Calhoun, Rockmart erased an early deficit to post a 50-28 win over the Phoenix, lifting them to 2-0 in league play.
It started out as a game of fumbles — three by Rockmart — and interceptions — two by Sonoraville — in the first half before it turned into a few big plays by the Yellow Jackets just before halftime enabling them to pull away.
Rockmart fumbled away the opening kickoff by the hosts to start the game, giving Sonoraville the ball in Jacket territory.
Eight plays later, sophomore quarterback Jaxon Pate capped off a 55-yard drive by running 19 yards for the touchdown on a fourth-and-seven to put the home team up less than three minutes into the game. The Phoenix then made the first of their four extra-point tries to lead 7-0.
But Rockmart returned the ensuing kickoff 70 yards to tie the score and send the Sonoraville offense right back on the field.
A Zach Lyles 43-yard run on the next Phoenix possession helped them get to the Rockmart 20, but they proceeded to go backwards and had to punt, pinning the Yellow Jackets back inside their own 10 with the kick. And on first down, the visitors fumbled and linebacker Tristan Mullins recovered to set up a first-and-goal at the Rockmart 11.
Two plays later, Brant Bryant swept around the left end for a 5-yard touchdown run, giving the hosts a 14-7 lead midway through the first period.
From that point, though, Rockmart got rolling, especially on the ground.
The Jackets (3-1) would score four times in the second quarter, using a pair of interceptions to set up good field position and two short touchdown drives, giving them a 21-14 lead three minutes into the second period.
But Brant Bryant took the kickoff back after the second score 90 yards to put the Phoenix at the Rockmart 9. Two penalties moved Sonoraville (2-1) back and things began to look bleak, but again on fourth down, this time from the Jacket 25, wide receiver Nicholas Beddington came down with Pate’s pass in a crowd for a touchdown to tie the game for the final time with 2:55 left until halftime.
The Jackets last two possessions of the second quarter ended with first a 58-yard run by touchdown JD Davis and then an 84-yard scoring run to break the game open and give them a 36-21 lead at the break.
The hosts had an outstanding drive to start the second half, going 70 yards on 12 plays and using nearly half the third period with Pate throwing a 19-yard touchdown pass to Ridge Redd to close the gap to one score.
But they would get no closer as the Yellow Jackets began to control the line of scrimmage. Using an array of backs, they kept things on the ground with two long scoring drives in the fourth quarter.
Rockmart has now scored 92 points in their first two region games.
The Jackets are off this week and will return to action Oct. 1 to host North Murray.