"…Quit talking and begin doing". Walt Disney said it. And. once again one of Mr. Disney's spot-on thoughts to live, work and achieve by rang true on the gridiron when the Palm Bay Rockets (FL) and the West Lynn Rams (MA) squared off for the Pop Warner D-II Midget championship game Friday afternoon at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.
All the hype that had led up to this classic showdown between two stellar squads, with speed to burn on offense, finally got down to business in a battle of stonewall defenses. And, for a full three quarters of this tense tilt, it looked as if neither would crack.
At the start of things, it looked as if the team with the fewest turnovers would emerge victorious. Palm City took the opening kickoff and began driving towards midfield. But, the hard-hitting Rams caused a fumble and the Rockets opening drive fizzled.
The Rams then pushed the ball back into Rockets territory, only to see themselves cough up the on the Palm City 46 yard line.
But, on the very next play, Palm City fans let out a collect groan as the Ram forced yet another Rockets turnover! With both offenses frustrated, the first half ended in a 0-0 tie!
In the second quarter, the Rockets offense finally "began doin'." In run-after determined run they ground-out the yardage, pushing downfield from their own 16 yard line to the Rams 9. But, once again, the fumblerooski bug struck , as the Ram defense forced another Rockets turnover.
But, the Rockets defense returned the favor and held the Rams offense deep in their own territory. After a fourth down punt went off the Ram kicker's foot at their own 13 yard line, it looked as if the Rockets were sittin' pretty for a go-ahead score. Taking full advantage of the break handed them, Palm City drove right down to the Rams one yard line.
But with first down and goal-to-go, the Rockets quarterback ploughed straight ahead and…you guessed it… another fumble into the end zone, recovered by the hard hitting Ram defense for a touchback. And, the first half ended in a flatfooted 0-0 tie.
The third quarter, although fumble-free, was a near carbon copy of the first half. With both teams defenses bending, but refusing to break, the score held at 0-0.
Then, with Palm Bay cheerleaders and fans beating drums, shaking rattles and chanting "Fourth quarter!... Rockets' quarter! Fourth quarter!... Rockets' quarter!," the lads in red and gray got the ball at their 40 yard line and launched a dynamic drive downfield. A great cutback run from the Rockets tailback netted huge yardage down to the Rams 23 yard line. A pass completion to the left flat netted another 17 yards. And, with Rockets fans roaring, Palm Bay finally pounded the ball into the Rams end zone for the touchdown! The kick attempt for the two-point PAT was blocked. But, with 8:49 left in the game, the Rockets held a 6-0 lead.
Still, this one was far from over, as the game was once more ruled by staunch defenses. With 3:00 to play, the Rockets got the ball and began what looked to be a final scoring drive to put the game away. But, just when they appeared to be firing on all afterburners, the Rockets botched a lateral, and the determined Rams recovered on their own 34 yard line with 1:28 to go.
The Rams offense hurried to the line and quickly completed a nine yard pass. Another run and they had a first down. But, fighting the clock, West Lynn's next three passes were knocked away. With but seconds left, the Rockets took possession, took a knee, and this classic battle of defenses ended with the Rockets hanging on to win 6-0.
Congratulations to both Palm Bay and West Lynn in as hard fought a game as we've seen all week at the Pop Warner Super Bowl. And, special congratulations to the Rockets who, despite turning the ball over 5 times, never hung their heads and kept on keeping on and bring home a well-deserved D-II Midget Championship.