ROCKDALE – At Rockdale’s new stadium on Friday night, a half-dozen Tiger flags whipped in the cold wind as a smaller-than-usual homecoming crowd filed into the stands.

By the end of the night, it may have looked as if Rockdale easily defeated Lago Vista 52-28 in a heavyweight District 10-3A DI battle. But it wasn’t looking that good for the Tigers as the second quarter wound down.

The momentum had decidedly shifted — Lago Vista had scored a quick couple of touchdowns in the second to cut Rockdale’s 17-0 lead to 17-14.

But momentum is fickle. What seemed to be a pedestrian kickoff return by Rockdale quickly turned thrilling when Enrique Rivera ran a risky path across the field and tossed the ball to Kobe Mitchell, who raced 75 yards to the end zone.

“We were starting to doubt ourselves,” Rockdale head coach Jeff Miller said after the game. “They had all the momentum, they had all the confidence. We were saying ‘we’re gonna get the ball, we’ve gotta go down the field and get some points.’ And to get that on the return, that was big.

“It just flipped everybody in the stadium’s mindset at that time.”

Rockdale followed that score quickly with a 23-yard pass from Jace Robinson to Anthony Dansby and the defense held off a determined push by Lago Vista to keep the score 31-14 at the half.

Lago Vista was to get another chance to regain momentum when they went to receive the second-half kickoff. But a perfectly executed surprise onside kick by Rockdale quickly lead to a 31-yard pass from Robinson to Ross Loth. After that, it was all Rockdale, though the hard-running Lago Vista QB Buck Pounds pushed the Vikings to a couple of late scores.

Early in the night, it looked as if it was going to be a runaway.

Rockdale roared to a 17-point lead in the first quarter with a brace of touchdowns from RB Cam’Ron Valdez on the 55-degree night. But the Vikings scratched their way back on a long drive spanning the end of the first quarter and the beginning of the second. Long passes were dropped and penalties set the Vikings back, but the drive was interspersed with long runs by Pounds.

The effort paid off with a 13-yard touchdown pass from Pounds to Sam Hurley. After a failed onside kick gave Rockdale the ball at their own 49 yard line, Lago Vista held the Tigers to a 3-and-out, then blocked the punt.

A handful of plays later, Pounds tossed the ball to Logan Parsons for an 11-yard touchdown run, drawing within three of the Tigers. That momentum would vanish on the ensuing kickoff.

“That’s a sound football team, extremely well-coached and their kids play hard,” Coach Miller said. “And we needed that. We’re gonna be pretty beat-up and sore tomorrow and that’s good for us.”

Rockdale (6-0, 2-0 District 10-3A DI) will travel to Troy next week. Lago Vista (5-2, 2-1) will play Manor New Tech.