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Rams Ride Defense and Special Teams to 21-0 triumph

By Randy Gregory, 09/21/18, 1:45PM EDT


~ Photo by Miles Postema

rams top bucs 21-0

The previous two games for Rockford saw the Rams giving up 45 and 33 points on their way to a pair of losses. What a difference a week made, as Rockford journeyed to Grand Haven on Friday, Sept. 21, and methodically worked their way to a 21-0 win that moved their record to 2-3 on the season and 1-1 in OK Red play. The loss moved Grand Haven's record to an identical 2-3.

The offense had certainly fared better than the defense in the previous two losses but that was certainly not the case at Grand Haven as Rockford struggled for the vast majority of the contest to establish a semblance of continuity. Of the three Rockford touchdowns, only one covered 50 yards and another came via special teams.

As to the Rockford defense, the Buccaneers reached the Rockford 23 on their opening drive and narrowly reached Rockford territory on two other occasions for the balance of the game. One of those came following a Rockford fumble on their side of midfield and the other came after a pair of major penalties against Rockford gained 25 yards of field position on a drive that perished at the Rockford 44.

The first half in particular was a study in frustration for both teams offensively. The only score of the opening 24 minutes came on a big play from the Rockford punt return team. Forced to punt from their 21 but aided by a powerful tailwind a Buccaneer punt sailed to Rockford senior Jack Richardson at his own 36. Feinting upfield initially, Richardson veered to his right and received a pair of crushing blocks as he turned the corner and headed towards the goal line. He never broke stride and flew untouched all the way to the end zone to give Rockford a 6-0 lead with 7:57 left in the opening half. Teagen Lenderink added the first of his three successful extra points and it was a 7-0 lead for the visiting Rams.

Richardson had a big impact when punting the ball for Rockford as well. Following up on several booming punts last week, he boomed punts of 67 and 51 yards to flip the field position in the Rams favor at key junctures.

A big factor that hampered Rockford all night long was their propensity to play loose and free with the ball. Despite reeling in an interception and fumble recovery defensively it was a game that saw Rockford end up a minus one in the turnover count as they suffered an interception of their own as well as a pair of fumbles.

"Our special teams were solid all night long and played a key factor in helping us get the win tonight," said Rockford coach Ralph Munger. "I thought several players were also solid defensively but I need to see the film first to definitively single out anyone. We were able to run a few plays where we got big gains because we executed on those occasions but it was a struggle most of the night."

The second Rockford score of the night came following an Austin Klein interception that he returned to the Grand Haven 23-yard line early in the third quarter. The TD came on a sweep to the right by Richardson that covered 19 yards and made it 14-0 with 8:25 left in the third quarter.

The Ram defense then forced a quick three and out and Rockford took over at midfield. Jaden Friesen went 19 yards up the gut on the first play of that possession. That was immediately followed by a 30-yard jaunt down to the Buc one-yard line by Connor White. Three plays later White covered the final yard off the right side and it was a 21-0 Ram lead at the 4:31 mark of the third quarter.

Neither team dented the scoring column for the rest of the evening and the game ended up in a 21-0 Ram victory. Rockford did reach the Buc 25 on one other occasion and ended up on the Grand Haven 8 as the clock ran out to end the contest.

 The Rams will look to establish their first winning streak of the year next week when they host Caledonia. Kickoff is slated for 7:00 P.M. on Friday, September 28th.

~ Photo by Miles Postema

~ Photo by Miles Postema

~ Photo by Miles Postema