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Rockford Rebounds in Impressive Fashion 36-0

By Randy Gregory, 08/31/18, 1:15PM EDT


~ Photo by Miles Postema

rams dominate Lowell

After falling in their home opener last week, Rockford journeyed to Lowell to take on the "Pink Arrows" before a crowd that was bursting at the seams on Thursday, Aug. 30. The contest seemed to be headed for a defensive duel for the first quarter and into the second quarter as both teams struggled to generate anything of a semblance of offensive consistency. But a Drew Bareno touchdown pass to Cade Klimczak at the 5:33 mark of the second quarter signaled a monumental shift in the flow of the game for the Rams.

From that point forward Rockford would score on six of their final seven possessions en route to a dominating 36-0 win to even their record at 1-1 on the season. With the loss Lowell fell to 0-2. The Pink Arrows (normally Lowell is known as the Red Arrows) designation was part of an annual fundraiser Lowell organizes to raise money to fight cancer. This year was another in a series of huge crowds and huge contributions though the final total wasn't available immediately after the game.

"I was very concerned at the beginning of the game that we weren't able to take advantage of several excellent opportunities to get on the board," said Rockford coach Ralph Munger. "But that first score seemed to flip a switch on from a mental standpoint. The guys showed great resolve and turned things up several notches and we were able to execute our game plan very well from that point forward."

Both teams generated almost nothing offensively over the first several possessions. As a matter of fact, the initial first down of the game came from Lowell on the eighth possession (four for each team). Nick McCauley picked off a pass for the Rams to set them up in great field position, but the Rams failed to capitalize that time as well in the opening quarter.

The first Ram scoring drive began at the Rockford 47. That drive culminated in the Bareno to Klimczak 19-yard TD. Klimczak ran a delay route over the middle before breaking wide open as he was hit in full stride. The key play of the drive was a Bareno scramble for six yards with the Rams facing a fourth down and five at the Lowell 37. Teagen Lenderink added the point after for a 7-0 Rockford lead.

 Rockford got the ball back late in the second quarter and capitalized eventually when Lenderink nailed a 26-yard field goal with a single second left in the first half. The key play of that drive was a 30-yard pass from Bareno to Kip Cushman.

The second half saw Jaiden Friesen start to assert himself for the Rams. The powerful junior fullback burst up the gut on a trap play for 59 yards before scoring on a similar ramble three plays later from 26 yards out. Friesen pin-balled off several tackle attempts on his way to the end zone. The score stood at 16-0 Rockford with 5:42 left in the third stanza after the PAT was blocked.

Friesen suffered cramps after the long runs but sophomore fullback Jacob Vega barely skipped a beat in replacing him as he continued to barrel over Lowell defenders. After taking over at the Lowell 30 the next Ram marker came courtesy of senior halfback Jack Richardson. Richardson covered the final two yards of the short drive to make it 23-0 Rockford after another Lenderink conversion with 1:33 left in the third quarter.

Lowell inexplicably went for it facing a fourth down and 10 from their own 26. They failed and it took the Rams exactly three plays to increase the lead to 30-0 on the first play of the final quarter. This score was another touchdown pass from Bareno to a wide open Cushman that covered 23 yards. Lenderink was again perfect on the conversion.

Rockford's second offensive unit capped off the scoring when sophomore quarterback Chris Corey sprinted around the right side for a nine-yard TD. That made the score 36-0 with 4:02left in the game and set the running clock in motion. 

Lost in the offensive flurry for the Rams was a dominant showing for the Ram defense. Austin Klein, Ian Rodriguez and Klimczak came up with huge stops all game long to help key the dominance of the Ram defenders.

 "Veen (Randy VanderVeen) and his staff really prepared well and spent a lot of time putting the kids in the right position to succeed," said Munger. "We changed things up a little personnel-wise because we felt like we needed a boost after last week. You have to depend on your seniors when you are struggling a bit and I really felt like they answered the bell tonight to help key this big win."

Rockford now has eight days to prepare for their next contest. The opponent will be the defending OK Red champs from Holland West Ottawa. West Ottawa defeated Rockford a pair of times last year in two exciting offensive showdowns. The losses kept the Rams from making it nine consecutive OK Red titles and also ended their postseason run. The game will be played at Rockford on Friday, Sept. 7, and kickoff is slated for 7 p.m.

~ Photo by Miles Postema

~ Photo by Miles Postema

~ Photo by Miles Postema