High School Football

Ohio State commit, Rockwall withstand late Arlington Martin rally in Week 4 thriller

Rockwall quarteback Braedyn Locke looks to pass against Arlington Martin during the first half, Friday night, September 20, 2019 played at Wilkerson-Sanders Stadium in Rockwall, TX
Rockwall quarteback Braedyn Locke looks to pass against Arlington Martin during the first half, Friday night, September 20, 2019 played at Wilkerson-Sanders Stadium in Rockwall, TX Special to the Star-Telegram

Rockwall senior Jaxon Smith-Njigba is ranked as the No. 10 wide receiver in the nation and the eighth-best overall player in the state, according to 247Sports.

Is he that good?

He proved it in the first half Friday night.

The 4-star Ohio State commit and Rockwall sophomore quarterback Braedyn Locke hooked up for 197 yards and four touchdowns before halftime as Rockwall hung on late to hand Arlington Martin its first loss, 45-38, on homecoming at Wilkerson-Sanders Memorial Stadium.

The Warriors (2-1), who are ranked No. 13 in the 6A state rankings by Dave Campbell’s, trailed 35-14 at halftime, but pulled within seven on Zach Mundell’s 33-yard TD pass to Cal Robinson with 5:11 to play.

Then Martin’s defense forced a punt with under three minutes left.

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Rockwall wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba (11) gives a stiffarm to Arlington Martin defensive back Placide Djungu-Sungu (19) during the first half, Friday night, September 20, 2019 played at Wilkerson-Sanders Stadium in Rockwall, TX Steve Nurenberg Special to the Star-Telegram

Rockwall’s snap was low and the Warriors were set up at the Yellowjacket 45-yard line with 2:24 on the clock, but the Warriors fumbled on the first play and Rockwall recovered.

Smith-Njigba finished with 11 catches and 199 yards. Locke was 17 of 30 for 339 yards and six TDs.

Trailing by three TDs at the break, Martin took the first play of the third quarter to the house on Chris Craft’s 51-yard TD run. Craft ended with 13 carries for 156 yards.

After Rockwall got a 33-yard field goal from Ethan Spearman, Martin pulled within 38-28 on Mundell’s 34-yard TD pass to Ryan Wallace with under three minutes in the third.

The Yellowjackets (3-1), who are the No. 5 team among 6A schools in DFW, answered three plays later on Locke’s 50-yard TD pass to Brenden Bayes.

Rockwall outgained Martin 531-312. Khalil Catlett rushed 34 times for 177 yards.

Martin got on the scoreboard first when Placide Djungu-Sungu intercepted a Rockwall pass attempt on its second possession and returned it 84 yards to the 10. The Warriors scored two plays later on a 5-yard TD run by D’Wayne Williams to give them a 7-0 lead midway through the opening quarter.

Rockwall came away with no points on its first three drives with two punts and a turnover on downs, but the Yellowjackets scored on their next five to take the 21-point lead at the break.

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Arlington Martin quarterback Zach Mundell (L) lowers his head against Rockwall defensive back PJ Barber (15) and defensive back Drew Molck (21) during the first half, Friday night, September 20, 2019 played at Wilkerson-Sanders Stadium in Rockwall, TX Steve Nurenberg Special to the Star-Telegram

Following a Rockwall punt, Martin fumbled on the return and the Yellowjackets recovered. Locke hit Smith-Njigba on a 27-yard TD during the next play to tie the game at 7 with 4:54 left in the quarter.

Martin answered when Mundell rushed in a 3-yard TD a minute later.

Locke and Smith-Njigba connected on 67- and 23-yard TDs, squeezed in by an interception from Tyler Ashworth. The 23-yard score gave Rockwall a 21-14 lead with under 10 minutes in the half.

Locke added his fourth TD pass of the first half, a 30-yarder to JJ Williams with 5:28 left.

Corey Kelley picked off a Martin pass and Rockwall scored on the ensuing possession when Locke found — guess who — Smith-Njigba for a 37-yard TD with 13 seconds left before intermission.

Martin starts District 4-6A with Lamar in Week 5.

Rockwall travels to Longview in 11-6A, the defending 6A Division 2 state champs.

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