ROCKDALE — Call it a nail-biter, call it too close for comfort. The folks in Madisonville are calling it an eye-opener.

Although the Mustang express rolled to another victory Friday over Rockdale, the Tigers’ 20-point eruption in the fourth quarter made this one too close of a call.

Still, Madisonville held on for a 21-20 victory.

“Of course I would like a big win, but it’s good we were pinched and still were able to walk away in the lead,” Madisonville head coach Greg Morgan said.

Earlier in the season, Morgan said his team needed to figure out how to make the big plays, and that appeared to be the thing Madisonville excelled at against the Tigers.

Long runs by Alonzo Whaley were the highlight of the game. Whaley scored all three of the Mustangs’ touchdowns, two of which were on 45- and 69-yard dashes. The talented sophomore finished the game with more than 250 yards rushing.

“There are definitely good points about the game. There were a lot of mistakes, but we also have some things to be proud of,” Morgan said. “I really think this game will help us build confidence in the future, to know that it can come down to the wire and we can still walk away OK.

“Being pinched at this point in the season is good, because we are going to continue to get it week after week as the season progresses.”

Madisonville held the Tigers scoreless for three quarters, while also dominating the game offensively. The winds of change swept through the fourth quarter, however, and Rockdale was able to put 20 points on the board and turn a would-be shutout into a game to remember.

Tigers quarterback David McCann was in perfect sync with receiver Dennis Brooks, completing two touchdown passes for a total of 110 yards. McCann was also successful in keeping the ball and dashing into the end zone on a 5-yard run.

McCann turned in a successful 2-point conversion.

Penalties again plagued Madisonville, as in the previous games against Navasota and Coldspring.

“All the penalties are costly and it’s to a point now where they are just getting repetitive,” Morgan said. “We have talked and preached about it and they’re still there. The kids are upset about the performance tonight, but maybe they will see that penalties can possibly cost us games.

“It just shows that we're not improving. In fact, it seems like in certain areas we have digressed since Navasota. Part of the problem is coaching; we made a lot of errors tonight. Not to take anything away from Rockdale, because it was obvious that we were outplayed and outcoached in the fourth.”

Although there are a lot of areas that need to be worked on in practice, the Mustangs can take the momentum of another win and try and learn from their mistakes.

“The good thing is that we are 3-0 and we hung on,” Morgan said. “I think later in the season we can look back and say, ‘Hey, we won it at Rockdale,’ but this game shows we have a long, long way to go.”

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