by TONY ANDERSON
On Friday, Sept. 11 the Rockford Rams hosted the Hudsonville Eagles. Rockford won the coin toss and chose to defer to the second half. The Rams then kicked off to the Eagles. There was a fumble on the play and the ball was recovered by Rockford’s Kevin Badersnider. The Rams took over on the 16-yard line, and the Rockford running back lost a yard on the first play. However, on the second play, quarterback Taylor Masiewicz ran 17 yards for the touchdown, and Paul Mudgett added the point after.
Hudsonville returned the kickoff to the 25. After a big pass play for first down, the Eagles looked to have some momentum, but the Ram defense buckled down. Matt Karamol sacked the Hudsonville quarterback for an 11-yard loss, forcing the Eagles to punt. Rockford took over on the 47, and went to work by mixing run and pass play among several players. Ryan Darby took it the last 11 yards for a touchdown, and Mudgett added the point after.
Mudgett then kicked the ball into the end zone for a touchback, giving the Hudsonville Eagles the ball on the 20-yard line. The Ram defense once again forced a punt. The punt return saw Darby hand the ball to Solomon Grant on a reverse, taking the ball to the 48. Masiewicz hit Karamol on a massive pass play, but it was negated by a holding call. The first quarter came to an end with the score of Rams 14, Eagles 0.
At the start of the second quarter, the Rams’ offense stumbled a bit and were forced to punt. The Eagles took over on the 28-yard line and were starting to move down the field, but Taylor Huizenga picked off the Hudsonville quarterback and returned it to the 41-yard line. The Ram offense tripped up and had to punt. The Hudsonville receiver fumbled the fair catch, but the Eagles recovered on the eight-yard line.
The Ram defense forced a three-and-out and returned the Eagle punt to the 21-yard line, but a penalty pushed them back to the 39-yard line. The Rams picked up one first down, then slowed down and Mudgett came in to kick a 37-yard field goal.
The Eagles and Rams exchange punts in their next possessions, and with time running out, Hudsonville ran the ball three straight times as the first half closed at Rockford 17, Hudsonville 0.
The Rams received the second-half kickoff and returned it to the 26-yard line. The first play from scrimmage saw Joey Johnson dash 74 yards for a touchdown, with Mudgett adding the point after.
Hudsonville took the ball at the 20-yard line after another touchback by Mudgett. Hudsonville’s drive was aided by a questionable face call and a defensive encroachment, and eventually the Eagles scored. Hudsonville went for a two-point conversion, but Joe Stefanski and Brett Egnatuk hammered the Eagles’ quarterback, stopping him short. Hudsonville attempted, unsuccessfully, for an onside kick. Rockford took over on the 47 and mixed run and pass plays, seeming that each play ended in a first down. The Rams drove to the nine-yard line, giving them a first-and-goal. Ram running back Joey Johnson, though hit in the back field, kept his feet driving, breaking free and going the final nine yards for his second touchdown of the night, with Mudgett adding the point after.
The Eagles took possession at the 20-yard line after another Mudgett touchback, but the Ram defense forced a three-and-out, forcing a punt. The Rams took over on the 37-yard line, and once again mixed the run and pass plays with Masiewicz running the final 10 yards for a touchdown, and Mudgett added the point after. The Eagles watched the third-quarter time run out with a score of Rockford 38, Hudsonville 6.
The Eagles had a second down and six yards to go on the first play of the final quarter. The Ram defense, now manned by less-experienced players, put up a good fight against the Eagles’ starters. But in the end, the Eagles scored, and another two-point conversion attempt was foiled by the Ram defense. The Rams took over on the 20-yard line—with Mark LaPrairie coming in as quarterback—and tried to chew up the remaining time, but were forced to punt. Hudsonville took over on the 32-yard line, but after Zack Nelson made a big tackle for a loss, the Eagles punted. Rockford took the ball at the 38 and tried to eat more time, but were forced to punt. The Eagles took over at the 34-yard line and scored in four plays, deciding that after two unsuccessful attempts for a two-point conversion, they should kick the point after.
The Rams took over on the 22 after the kickoff, and Masiewicz came back in as quarterback. He picked up a first down on a huge run with just over two minutes left in the game. The time finally ran out, giving the Rockford Rams a victory, 38-19 over Hudsonville.
Masiewicz completed five of 11 pass attempts for 54 yards and ran for 64 yards. Johnson led the Rams with 130 yards and two touchdowns. Stefanski and Egntuk led the Ram defense with nine tackles each.
The Rams next travel to Jenison on Friday, Sept. 18, and will kick off at 7 p.m.