"We've been doing it all year with defense and our offense came to play today," Etheridge said. "Our backs ran the ball unbelievably. We had 418 yards rushing in the state championship game, that's pretty good. I'm proud of the guys. The offensive front did an outstanding job. Our hats are off to Hamilton. They've got an outstanding football team."
Totaling 468 yards in the game and throwing just three passes, Leeds averaged nearly 10 yards per carry as a team on the way to the win. In addition to Rodgers Dedrick Forsythe added 147 yards and a score on just seven carries as Leeds powered their way to their second state title in the last three years.
Ladarius Rodgers runs for one of his three touchdowns.
Friday's game didn't get off to a good start for Rose however as he fumbled a reverse on the second offensive play of the game for the Green Wave to put Hamilton in business at the 24-yard line. It took the Aggies just seven plays to cover the distance with quarterback Mitch Stults sneaking over from one-yard out to give Hamilton the early lead. The extra-point was no good though as Leeds trailed 6-0 early.
After that it was all Green Wave and all big plays starting with the next time they touched the ball. Starting from its own 10-yard line, Leeds got 17 yards on three carries from Dedrick Forsythe to put them in business. Two plays later the big senior got a head of steam up and raced 68 yards for the touchdown. The point after touchdown was good to put Leeds ahead. They would never trail again.
Taking over at the 50-yard line following a personal foul penalty on the return, the Aggies attempted to put the ball in the air. That proved to be a bad idea as Stults lofted a pass in the direction of Rose at the Leeds 16. He snared it for the interception and set off down the sidelines. Dodging several defenders at the other 20, Rose finished off an 84-yard interception for a touchdown. The kick made it 14-6.
"I owe it to my team," Rose said. "I got down on myself and they told me to just come back and make a play for them. I just kept that in mind as the ball went up for that interception. I had to make a big play for my team. After a negative play I came back for some positive plays for my team."
Rose dodges a tackler on his way to his second touchdown.
The Green Wave added to the lead early in the second quarter thanks to Rose and the special teams. Starting from its own 15-yard line, Leeds drove all the way to the Hamilton 38 where it faced a fourth and four. Going back in punt formation, Dylan Shelton instead threw a pass to Rose down the right sidelines. He hurdled one defender on his way to the end zone with his second score of the game. The touchdown catch and kick made it 21-6 Leeds.
Following a three-and-out by Hamilton, it took Leeds just two plays to cover 93 yards and make it a three touchdown lead. A six-yard run by Dantrell Purifoy set the Green Wave up at the 13 where Ladarius Rodgers proceeded to do the rest. Tearing down the left sideline, Rodgers outran the Hamilton defense for an 87-yard score and a 28-6 advantage.
Getting the ball back, Leeds gave it right back at its own 14-yard line on a fumble by Forsythe. Hamilton returned the favor moments later when Jermaine Smith intercepted Stults at the one-yard line with just 1:33 left in the half. That proved to be a huge play for the Aggies as Leeds attempted to hit a big play with a pass to Rose but the ball was badly under thrown. That allowed Stults to intercept the ball from his cornerback spot and trot into the end zone for a touchdown. A failed two-point conversion made it 28-12 at the half.
Leeds increased its lead to 35-12 just minutes into the second half as Forsythe took the opening handoff of the second half and appeared to be headed for the end zone. Running 41 yards the senior pulled up lame before dropping at the Hamilton 36. One play later Rodgers scored from 34 yards out to all but end the game for Leeds.
Hamilton didn't quit though as two quick touchdowns brought the Aggies back to within nine points with 4:19 left in the third. It was Rodgers again that struck quickly for the Green Wave as he took his first carry 75 yards for his third score of the game. That put Leeds back up 42-26. Hamilton would add a touchdown in the fourth but it was too little too late as Leeds got the Super Six at Jordan-Hare started with a bang.