Grand Haven beats Rockford for first time in 11 seasons
by TIM COOPER
In spite of Brett Egnatuk’s 16 tackles, the Ram defense was unable to stop the punishing ground game of the Grand Haven Buccaneers. Grand Haven totaled 252 yards on the ground en route to defeating the number-one ranked Rockford Rams 26-23.
Rockford’s typically potent ground attack struggled to gain yards, while Grand Haven’s running game wore the Ram defense down. The Rockford offense was forced to stand and watch on the sidelines as the Buccaneers had several long drives that also served to tire out the Ram defense.
When the Rockford offense was on the field, quarterback Mark LaPrairie found a favorite receiver in Neil VanderLaan. VanderLaan accounted for 11 of LaPrairie’s 15 completions, racking up 212 yards, including an 83-yard touchdown, which gave the Rams a 23-20 lead late in the third quarter. The touchdown was Rockford’s final score of the night.
The Buccaneers got the ball back with 50 seconds remaining in the third quarter. With just over five minutes remaining in the game, Dalton Stenberg crashed into the end zone from the one-yard line, capping off a 15-play, 86-yard drive that used over half of the final quarter, giving the Buccaneers a 26-23 lead.
On the Rams’ final possession, LaPrairie, who had played stellar football all night, missed on three consecutive attempts. LaPrairie finished the night at 15-21 and had 252 yards.
Following Steve Mette’s 66-yard punt, Grand Haven ran the remaining 2:53 seconds off the clock, giving them their first victory over Rockford since 1999.
This Friday, the Rams return to the lakeshore to face the undefeated Panthers of West Ottawa, who defeated Grand Haven 29-15 on September 10. The Panthers are currently 2-0 in the OK Red, and 4-0 overall.