ARLINGTON - The Brock Eagles had the chip knocked off their shoulders in the final game of the season.
They had balanced it for five postseason victories, coming up one win shy of their second state football championship in three seasons. Instead, they finished as Class 3A Division I runners-up, falling 45-29 to Rockdale in the title game at AT&T Stadium Thursday, Dec. 21.
The Eagles (13-3) looked as though they would roll over their sixth consecutive playoff opponent, jumping out to a 21-0 lead on three Dawson Littlepage touchdowns. Then, the Tigers scored four times in a seven-minute span of the second quarter to take control on their way to their first state championship since 1976.
The Eagles had no answer for Rockdale quarterback Torry Locklin once he settled into a groove. Locklin threw for 202 yards and a touchdown, ran for 256 yards and three TD, and even caught one for 19 yards.
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Turnovers that helped the Eagles early plagued them thereafter. Twice they made yardage after a completion only to turn the ball over and stop a drive.
The Brock offense was led by senior running back Tanner Patino with 161 yards and one TD rushing, while Littlepage, also a senior, finished with 94 yards rushing and three scores. Littlepage also led the defense with 11 tackles, while linebacker Zakk Young added 10.
"No one expected us to be here. This group of seniors really rose up," Brock coach Chad Worrell said. "It hurts right now, but we're going to look back at what this team accomplished."
Despite the loss, the Eagles feel they proved some naysayers wrong who thought their powerhouse run ended with a 30-28 loss at Breckenridge to end the regular season. It is their only district loss since becoming UIL eligible in 2014.
In fact, that loss sparked them to another playoff surge.
"The lights came on in the playoffs," Worrell said. "I told the kids after that loss that I still believe we have the talent to play with anybody in the state of Texas."
And until they met Rockdale they not only played with them, they dominated in the postseason. They blasted Clyde 49-3 in bidistrict, followed by four straight wins over teams with better records to whom they were underdogs.
Underdogs to everyone except themselves.
Brock disposed of Shallowater (10-2) 31-13, Wall (12-1) 29-10, Comanche (12-2) 34-7, and Kemp (13-2) 49-21.
"Looking back, losing to Breckenridge was the best thing that could have happened to us," senior running back Tanner Patino said before the championship game. "It all has to do with playing with a chip on your shoulder. In 2015 people said we couldn't beat Cameron Yoe (they did, 43-33 for the title). Then, after we lost to Breckenridge people said we were finished."
The playoff run was actually the second time the Eagles proved their doubters wrong. They lose to Midland Christian 26-9 in the second game of the season, their only home loss since becoming UIL eligible.
The Eagles won eight straight and seemed poised to win a fourth straight district championship before Breckenridge.
"There were people who said we were done after that game, but that was just part of a very tough schedule we played," Worrell said.
In fact, every team Brock played in predistrict made the postseason. Midland Christian (8-4) advanced to the second round of the playoffs in the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools. The Eagles defeated Stamford (10-3, third round UIL) 55-7, Grapevine Faith (6-5, TAPPS bidistrict) 42-21, Cedar Hill Trinity (12-1, third round UIL) 57-21, and Pilot Point (3-8, UIL bidistrict) 27-8.
"That Breckenridge loss did take some pressure off our kids," Worrell said. "We weren't on the pedestal anymore. We could relax and play. We still knew what we could do, though."
As for the championship game, it was also history for the Eagles, albeit not the kind they like. It marked the first time in their history they blew a 21-point lead, and it happened so quickly a lot of those watching are likely still in disbelief.
The Eagles led 14-0 less than four minutes into the game. They had run a total of five plays. Early in the second quarter, they added a third score.
"I've never seen momentum swing in a game like that," Worrell said. "Credit to them (Rockdale).
"We knew that wasn't going to last defensively. We weren't going to shut them out."
The Eagles are now 54-6 since 2014, including 17-3 in the playoffs. With only a dozen seniors on the 72-player playoff roster, and a 35-2 record among their subvarsity squads, Brock fans are excited at the possibility of the success continuing for some time.
But Worrell said that's for another day.
"We're just going to enjoy our holidays," he said. "Then, we'll start our season again and get ready for next year."
Class 3A Division I State Championship
at AT&T Stadium
▪ Rockdale 45, Brock 29
Rockdale - Torry Locklin 7-15, 202 yards, 3 TD, 0 int.
Brock - Tripp Jones 2-7, 56 yards, 1 int.
Rockdale - Locklin 32-256 yards, 3 TD.
Brock - Tanner Patino 15-161, 1 TD; Dawson Littlepage 11-94, 3 TD.
Rockdale - Jaqualyn Crawford 2-82, 1 TD.
Brock - Baylor Cupp 1-40.
Rockdale - Josh Springer 9, J.R. Harris 9.
Brock - Littlepage 11, Zakk Young 10, Jesse Hallmark 8, Patino 8.
Rockdale - Perry Jackson.
Rockdale - Springer, Dylan David.
Brock - Kaden Hendrix, Tate Swearingen.
Rockdale - Dylan Rowe, Josh Davenport.
Brock - Hendrix, Hallmark.