by TONY ANDERSON
The Rockford Rams hosted the Buccaneers of Grand Haven on Friday night, Nov. 6, a rematch of week five. At stake was the district championship and the chance to continue the drive toward Ford Field.
The Bucs won the toss and deferred to the second half. Rockford returned the opening kick to the 36-yard line. The Rams mixed passes and runs, picking up two first downs. However, on a fourth-and-two, the Rams were hit with a false start penalty, leaving them with a fourth-and-seven. The Rams had the appearance of going for it, but Taylor Masiewicz punted the ball all the way to the eight-yard line.
The Rockford Rams football teammates hug as they celebrate their playoff victory seconds after the clock runs out. Photo by Tom Scott
The Rockford defense gave up one first down before Zach Haugen intercepted the Grand Haven quarterback, and Rockford took over near midfield at the 47-yard line.
The Rams tried a trick play, but it ended in an interception by Grand Haven. The Bucs picked up a couple first downs and scored on a 14-yard run.
The Rams started their next possession on the 37-yard line. Rockford picked up two first downs, before they stumbled and were forced to punt. The Bucs started on the 20-yard line and, after an offensive face mask, had a first-and-22 from the 9-yard line, and the Rockford defense forced them to punt.
Rockford started on the Grand Haven 49-yard line, and the first quarter came to an end with the score Grand Haven 7, Rockford 0.
The second quarter opened with the Rams’ second-and-14 from the 47-yard line. After picking up one first down, the Rams found themselves in fourth-and-one. The Rams were unable to pick up the one yard and turned the ball over on downs. Grand Haven took over on the 20-yard line and the Rams after forced the Bucs to punt.
Rockford started on the 32-yard line, and after three runs they had to punt.
Grand Haven started on the 23-yard line. After a chop block penalty and a huge sack from the Ram defense, the Bucs had to punt from the 16-yard line.
Rockford started from the Grand Haven 40-yard line. and on the second play the Masiewicz pass was intercepted.
Grand Haven started on their 32-yard line and found the Ram defense not willing to let them move the ball, and the Rams forced a punt.
Rockford started in Grand Haven territory on the 48-yard line with 1:36 left in the half. Rockford went to the air, picking up a first down before stumbling and turning the ball over on downs on the 37-yard line. With 16.8 left in the game, the Bucs knelt down once and headed to the locker room. The half time score stood at Grand Haven 7, Rockford 0.
The second half opened with Grand Haven starting on the 20-yard line after a Paul Mudgett touchback. Grand Haven found the Ram defense as stingy as they were in the first half and were forced to punt.
Rockford started at the 35-yard line and went to their ground game, picking up a first down before faltering, and were forced to punt. Grand Haven started on the 16-yard line. The Bucs managed to get one first down before the Ram defense shut them down, forcing a punt.
The Ram offense started on the 36-yard line and again went to their ground game. The Rockford offensive line opened holes and the ball carriers marched down the field, with Nick Smythe going the final 3 yards for a Ram touchdown. Mudgett added the point after to knot the game at 7.
Grand haven started on the 20-yard line after a touchback, and the Bucs picked a first down before the end of the third quarter.
The fourth quarter saw the Bucs on the 33-yard line with a second-and-seven. Grand Haven continued to drive down the field and had a first-and-10 on the 16-yard line. The Ram defense stepped up and forced a fourth-and-21 from the 27-yard line. Grand Haven went for the first down and the Rams’ Joe Stefanski hammered the Buc quarterback, giving the ball to Rockford on downs on the 30-yard line.
The Rams mixed the run-and-pass plays and picked up three first downs, the last picked up by Masiewicz as he scrambled to the 8-yard line, giving the Rams a first-and-goal.
Two plays later, Ryan Darby went 5 yards for a Rockford score. Mudgett added the point after, putting the Rams ahead 14-7.
Grand Haven once again started on the 20-yard line after a touchback. They seemed to be moving down the field, and picked up four first downs before the Rams’ Taylor Huizenga picked off the Buc quarterback in the end zone, giving the Rams the ball on the 20-yard line. The Rams only had to snap the ball one time to have the clock at all zeros and secure the district championship. The final score was Grand Haven 0, Rockford 14.
The Rams will next host the Holt Rams on Saturday, Nov. 14, at 1 p.m. This will be another rematch—this one from week two.