By BEN JOHNSON
Joel Rockmore was well on his way to another stellar season. Northeastern State’s junior running back — coming off a 1,000-yard rushing campaign as a sophomore — was already averaging 122 yards a contest in 2013.
That hit a snag on Thursday.
NSU head coach Kenny Evans revealed that Rockmore would miss the RiverHawks’ game against Washburn on Saturday — and possibly the rest of the season.
Rockmore went for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) tests earlier in the week, and it was discovered that Rockmore had a slight tear of the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee.
Knowing that, Evans ruled Rockmore out this week with the Ichabods set to invade Tahlequah on Saturday at 6 p.m. Beyond this weekend, though, Evans is unsure of how they’ll move forward with Rockmore.
“We don’t know what we’re going to do,” Evans said. “Rockmore is really hurt and a little bit in denial, but we have to do what’s best for his future.”
The ultimate decision on Rockmore — a Fort Worth, Texas, native — could be made early next week.
“We will have it reexamined again this weekend,” Evans said of Rockmore’s gimpy knee. “At that time, we’ll make the final decision — surgery or no surgery — and decide what’s best at that point.”
Taking Rockmore’s spot in the starting rotation will be Terrance Dixon, a 5-foot-10, 189-pound junior tailback from Sand Springs who started four games in 2012 and finished the season with 354 yards on 75 carries.
“Terrance has started before and has been very reliable,” Evans said.
Dixon ran the ball 13 times for 35 yards in NSU’s loss to Missouri Southern last week. Dixon logged the majority of the time at running back after Rockmore hobbled to the sidelines with an apparent injury in the third quarter.
Backing up Dixon will be Ashdon Perry and Steven Hopper, who started the season at strong safety. Evans said he also anticipates Chavez Wyatt, a freshman out of Douglass High School, getting time at running back once he is healthy.
Rockmore’s injury comes on the heels of starting quarterback Johnny Deaton fracturing his fibula in the RiverrHawks’ season-opening game at Pittsburg State.