Photo by Derrick Mahone M.D. Roberts captain Lenox Copeland greets the game official before his team's middle school playoff win over North Clayton on Tuesday at Tara Stadium.
JONESBORO — M.D. Roberts coach Rosby Johnson told his players that he wanted this game.
And after his Rams pulled out a 28-16 win over the North Clayton Middle School Tigers — the team that beat his team by two points in last year’s championship game — Johnson said he would let himself and his team savor the moment, even if just for a little while.
“After today’s game, I’m pretty excited and enthused with the way we played tonight,” Johnson said. “We played with passion and we came out heart. We eliminated mistakes and played a good game. This meant something to us because of how North Clayton beat us last year.”
Roberts, seeded fourth-seeded in the middle school playoff bracked, sparred with the fifth-seeded Tigers for about the first quarter and half when the two teams traded touchdown punches.
M.D. Roberts’ Lenox Copeland put the Rams up 7-0 on a 30-yard touchdown run on a reverse, but North Clayton quarterback Jordan Thomas struck back with a two yard touchdown midway through the first half.
North Clayton converted on a two point conversion to take an early 8-7 lead.
Copeland scored again before the half to give the Rams a 15-8 lead at the break. North Clayton actually appeared to have scored again right before the halftime buzzer when Thomas connected on a 38-yard touchdown pass as time expired. But a holding penalty called it back.
In the second half, M.D. Roberts quarterback Cory Turner scored found Copeland on a 30-yard touchdown pass on a fade route to push the Rams’ lead to 22-8. Quinton Newton’s 11 yard touchdown scamper gave M.D. Roberts its last score of the night.
The Rams will face Rex Mill Middle School next Tuesday at Twelve Oaks Stadium in the semifinal round.
M.D. Roberts lost 30-12 to Rex Mill earlier in the season, but the Rams are the only team in the county to have scored on the Yellowjackets all season.
Johnson said he is expecting the game between the rival schools to be close, and he is hoping that a win will help M.D. Roberts get over the championship hump.
“Rex Mill and Roberts are always in the mix of things in the playoffs,” Johnson said. “We always end up knocking each other out of it. Hopefully we’ll be able to play a good game next week and advance.
“I’ve been here nine years and we haven’t won a title yet. We always make the playoffs, but never the championship. Hopefully this is our year.”