Officially, Boyd-Buchanan calls David L. Boyd Field its football home. Unofficially, it is the place where Rockwood seasons go to die.
For the third time in four years, Boyd-Buchanan put an end to Rockwood's year with a hard-fought 27-19 win Friday night in the opening round of the TSSAA Class 2A state playoffs.
"One of these years we are going to walk off this field happy," said Rockwood coach John Webb. "We had a chance tonight, but we just couldn't make a play when we needed one. They are a fine football team, but we've known that for the last few years."
The visiting Tigers (6-5) took an early 6-0 lead, but it lasted all of 23 seconds as the Buccaneers responded to everything Rockwood threw at them. Only two other teams this season had managed to score more than the 19 points Rockwood posted, but with three Rance Harden touchdowns and two field goals by Caleb Antwine, the Bucs offense came through in the clutch.
Harden scored on runs of 27 and 51 yards in the first half and caught Jim Cardwell's only pass for a 4-yard score as the Bucs (10-1) carried a 24-6 lead into the fourth quarter. Rockwood showed its mettle with an 80-yard, 12-play drive capped by Kyron Inman's second TD run and blocked a punt to set up Clay Cisson's 1-yard burst to make it 24-19, but Boyd Buchanan recovered the onside kick and got a 28-yard field goal by Arnwine with 29 seconds left to seal it.
"We knew coming in they were going to fight us tooth-and-nail. We overlooked them a little bit last year, but we had our heads screwed on right tonight," said Harden, who rushed for 176 yards on 20 carries.
The visiting Tigers showed they meant business with a 51-yard drive that Inman capped with a 34-yard run on their first possession. The visitors barely had time to celebrate the early lead. Cardwell returned the ensuing kickoff 56 yards and Harden took it the final 27 yards on the first play, and Arnwine's kick gave them a lead they would never relinquish.
Harden got loose on the Bucs' next possession as well, rolling in from 51 yards away. Arnwine booted a 29-yard field goal with 42 seconds left before the halftime bell, and Boyd Buchanan was up 17-6 at the break despite being outgained 138-137 in rushing yards. Neither team completed a pass in the half.
Cardwell had a big night as well with 142 rushing yards on 19 carries as the Bucs rushed for 318 yards, all of it courtesy of Harden and Caldwell.
"That was a good football team we just beat," said Boyd-Buchanan coach Grant Reynolds. "Grace Christian only beat them 12-7, and Grace is the No. 1 team in the state. That's what playoff football is all about."
Rockwood wound up with 348 total yards but was stopped inside the 15 on a fourth-down try to end a 13-play drive opening the final half. The Bucs took it 85 yards in 12 plays to push it to that 24-6 margin. Inman led the Tigers with 145 yards on 16 carries.