by TONY ANDERSON
The Rams hosted the Falcons of East Kentwood on Friday night, Oct. 16. The Falcons lacked one win to make the playoffs, but the one thing they didn’t lack was speed.
East Kentwood won the coin toss and elected to receive the opening kick. The Falcons returned the opening kick to the 19-yard line. East Kentwood picked up three first downs before the Rockford defense forced a third down with nine yards to go. The Rams stopped them just short, forcing a punt.
Rockford started their first offensive possession on the 20-yard line. The Rams mixed the run and pass plays and picked up three first downs before stumbling, then Taylor Masiewicz was sacked on third down with nine yards to go. Paul Mudgett came in and attempted a 47-yard field goal, but it was wide left.
The Falcons started on the 20-yard line and seemed to be headed for a sure touchdown when Zach Haugen intercepted the Falcon pass in the end zone. The Rams fumbled on the first play from the 20-yard line and the East Kentwood defender picked up the ball and returned 23 yards for the score.
The next Rockford possession started on the 20-yard line and after three straight pass attempts, and then had to punt. East Kentwood started on the Ram 48-yard line. Aided by a huge run, the Falcons scored in three plays. The point after, however, was no good.
Rockford’s next possession started at the 7-yard line after a block-in-the-back penalty. The Rams went to the ground and picked up two first downs before the first quarter came to a close, with East Kentwood at 13 and Rockford 0.
The Rams opened the second quarter with a first-and-10 on the 32-yard line, but the Ram drive faltered and they had to punt. The punt carried to the 6-yard line. The Falcons saw a hungry Ram defense that forced a three-and-out punt.
Rockford started on the East Kentwood 27-yard line. After two plays, the Rams saw a third-and-one, but were unable to pick it up. The Rams went for 28-yard field goal, but the attempt was blocked.
The Falcons’ drive was slowed by a holding call, bringing up a third-and-15, and the Rams defense did not allow them to get their first down. After the East Kentwood punt, the Rams started on the 40-yard line. Rockford mixed run and pass plays and picked up three first downs, getting to the “red zone.”
Rockford went to the end zone three times with the pass coming up just inches away each time. They were forced into a 23-yard field goal, and the kick was blocked by the Falcon defense.
East Kentwood started on the 20-yard line, but with the lead and time winding down, they were content to let the clock expire. The first half came to a close with the score at East Kentwood 13, Rockford 0.
Rockford received the second-half kick and started at the 22-yard. The drive slowed down, bringing up a fourth-and-three. The Rams were unable to pick up the 3 yards and turned the ball over on downs. East Kentwood took over on the 34-yard line. The Falcons picked one first down on a big run, but even with the big run the Rockford defense forced them to punt.
The Rams started at their 21-yard line and mixed the run and pass plays, picking up four first downs, one of which was on a fourth-and-five. The third quarter came to a close with East Kentwood at 13 and Rockford still at 0.
The Rams started the fourth quarter with first-and-goal from the 1-yard line. Ryan Darby scrambled the final yard for a Ram touchdown, and Mudgett added the point after. The drive had 14 plays, went 79 yards and lasted five minutes and 12 seconds. The Falcons started their next possession from the 20-yard line, but faced a fired-up Ram defense that allowed 4 yards on three plays and forced East Kentwood to punt. The punt did not travel very far, and the Rams started on East Kentwood’s 45-yard line. Rockford went the 45 yards in four plays; the final play was a 36-yard touchdown pass from Masiewicz to Tyler Pratt. Mudgett added the point after. The drive lasted 1:39 and gave the Rams their first lead of the game.
East Kentwood started on the 20-yard line after a touchback, and seemed to have a drive mounted, picking up three first downs. However, Haugen picked off the Falcon quarterback (his second of the evening) on the 9-yard line. Rockford went to the ground game, trying to chew up time and yards. The Rockford ball carriers went 56 yards on 12 plays, eating nearly five minutes of clock, and turning the ball over on downs on the 35-yard line with 45.1 seconds left in the game.
Feeling the desperation, East Kentwood tried to answer the Ram touchdown. The Falcons managed to get six plays in the 45 seconds and picked up 23 yards. But on fourth down and six-tenths of a second left, the Falcons still had hope as their quarterback heaved the ball to the end zone. The Falcon ball was batted down, sealing the Rockford victory, 14-13.
Masiewicz was 14-23 for 185 yards and a touchdown. Nick Smythe led the Ram ground attack with 66 yards, and Pratt led the Rockford receivers with 50 yards. The Ram defense was led by Brett Egnatuk with 14 tackles; six were solo.
The Rockford Rams will travel to Grandville to close out the regular season this Friday, Oct. 23. The 4-4 Bulldogs would like to end Rockford’s perfect regular season.