Rockets Blast Roberson 28-7 in MAC Super Bowl - TribPapers

Rockets Blast Roberson 28-7 in MAC Super Bowl

Malik Angram (4) runs for Reynolds, in the win at TCR on Friday. The Hendersonville native has helped fill the void of injured star runner Max Guest, who might return for playoffs. Photo by Pete Zamplas.

Skyland – Metallica’s pulsating heavy metal anthem “Enter Sandman” blared over T.C. Roberson‘s Ensley Stadium loud speaker as usual, right before the opening kickoff. Its famed chorus is about escaping to “Nether-Netherland.”

That dreamy analogy fits. Improved Roberson has already wrapped up the Mountain Athletic Conference’s top 4A seed. But head coach J.D. Dinwiddie’s Rams thirsted to beat usual champ A.C. Reynolds. They envisioned their first overall league title since 2004. TCR was the MAC runner-up in 2007, 2011, and ‘12.

Instead, Reynolds (6-3; 5-0 MAC) beat Roberson (7-2; 5-1) by 28-7 on a rainy Oct. 20, in week ten. That spoiled the Ram title dream, and reasserted ACR league dominance. An apt lead-up song would have been Elton John’s “Rocket Man.” One Rocket after another (including two named Ty) starred.

Reynolds head coach Shane Laws notes how the Rockets routinely expect to win the competitive MAC, and advance deeply in playoffs.

Asheville Stays Third

AC-TC was an electric local Super Bowl-like clash of teams unbeaten in the 4A/3A MAC. Reynolds won six MAC titles in a row starting in 2015, was dethroned by Asheville in 2021, but won the last two crowns.

Asheville is (4-5; 3-2 MAC) closing in on a playoff berth, as the league’s second-best 4A seed – ahead of McDowell (2-7; 2-3). Ccoach Cort Radford’s Cougars remained third overall, after winning 59-12 at North Buncombe (3-6; 0-5) on Thursday. They played a day early to avoid forecasted rain.

Kyheem Plummer and Josh Ellis each ran for two Cougar touchdowns. Plummer raced 80 yards to open scoring. Alex Rash lobbed a Hawk TD pass to Xavier Banks-Tenant.

Roberson might host Asheville in 4A playoffs, as early as round one based on their statewide power rankings. TCR beat AHS 41-13 on Oct. 6.

Erwin (3-6; 2-3), as the MAC’s second 3A seed, might squeeze into the postseason. The Warriors pummeled McDowell 64-38.

Rocket Barrage

Reynolds and undefeated West Henderson are 3A West Region powers.

The Rockets led Roberson by at least two TDs Friday, from a half-minute into the second quarter onward. The Rockets flared their speed. Ty Johnson returned the opening kickoff to the Ram 20. Malik Angram gained three yards on fourth-and-two, dashing around the right end.

Lefty Hayden Craig scrambled to his left, then tossed to wide-open Wes Rumbough in the left side of the end zone at the 7:29 mark. (Imagine a Rumbough Rumba dancing celebration.)

Rocket freshman Zion Ikeme shows officials his trophy — the ball he dove to intercept. Photo by Pete Zamplas.
Rocket freshman Zion Ikeme shows officials his trophy — the ball he dove to intercept. Photo by Pete Zamplas.

The Rams relentlessly stuck to triple-option running, compiling 318 total yards. They reached the ACR 30. They went for it on fourth down with six yards to go.

Rugged workhorse fullback Reno Jeter caught a screen pass. But linebacker Ayden Hines stopped him short. Hines smashed into Jeter, grasped him, then swung him down as if a rodeo cowboy. Both defenses made punishing tackles.

Hines’ defensive gem set up the second TD. Tyvon Patterson scored the next two touchdowns. First, he burst up the middle 28 seconds into the second quarter.

Freshman Rocket DB Zion Ikeme dove to pick off a long pass at his own 14-yard line. The next Roberson drive ended with a missed field goal, to close the first half. Roberson remained scoreless at the break.

Lady Luck shunned Roberson to start the rainy second half. Angram grabbed an errant Ram pitch. His return set up a score, as Patterson dove into the end zone’s corner. Reynolds was pulling away, at 21-0.

T-Rex Lex Flex

Roberson finally got onto the scoreboard. Senior quarterback Lex Dinwiddie dashed 43 yards untouched on an option keeper, for the lone TCR score. He faked a quick “belly” handoff to fullback Jeter quite well, then hustled around the right end. That was Dinwiddie’s team-leading 13th rushing TD.

But Reynolds controlled the ball well enough the rest of the way and added an insurance score. Angram often carried the rushing load.

Meanwhile, the swift Rocket defense, led by senior linebackers Brandon Guest and Hines, mostly held TCR to a few yards at a time. The Rockets contained wide runs. They often halted Jeter up the gut. Drives repeatedly stalled once TCR faced passing situations.

Regular season finales on Friday include Asheville-Enka and Reynolds-McDowell. Roberson hosts lowly Mountain Seven team Franklin (2-7; 2-4 M7).

Falcons, Knights Win

West Henderson (9-0) clinched its second M7 crown in a row, scorching Franklin 41-0 at home Friday. Accurate sophomore Cade Young threw TD passes to Tayman Howell covering 21 and 18 yards. Versatile receiver Truitt Manuel took a pitch and passed to Diego Castro for a 69-yard scoring play.

Ram senior QB Lex Dinwiddie ran for a 43-yard TD. Here, he charges ahead as Rockets Ayden Hines (7) and Zion Ikeme (30) converge on him. Photo by Pete Zamplas.
Ram senior QB Lex Dinwiddie ran for a 43-yard TD. Here, he charges ahead as Rockets Ayden Hines (7) and Zion Ikeme (30) converge on him. Photo by Pete Zamplas.

Carson Dimsdale churned out 170 yards (9.4 YPC) and a TD, to total 1,424 rushing yards and 21 scores. Zane McCraw bounced off of a Panther for a 10-yard TD. Jackson Lynn had a 58-yard “pick six.”

Coach Paul Whitaker’s mighty Falcons play on Friday at dangerous Tuscola (5-4; 3-2), the ‘22 league runner-up.

North Henderson Knights (7-2; 3-2 M7) host Pisgah (6-2; 2-2). As the all-3A M7’s second seed, the Knights should make 3A playoffs. They are winning decisively. Their signature win was 42-32 at Tuscola on Sept. 29, earning the tiebreaker over the Mountaineers. NHHS won 34-0 at winless East Henderson two Fridays ago.

Coach Jim Beatty’s Knights won 42-10 at Enka (3-6; 1-4 MAC) on Oct. 19, scoring two TDs in the first quarter and three in the third quarter. NHHS star receiver Drake Blackwell has filled in admirably at quarterback, often connecting with fellow senior Keith Payne.