Rockford pulls off 14-7 upset of unbeaten West Ottawa
by TIM COOPER
It’s rare for Rockford to be considered an underdog, but going into Friday night’s game in Holland against West Ottawa, that was the case. With the undefeated Panthers tied for the lead in the OK Red, the Rams found themselves trying to avoid back-to-back losses for the first time since 2002.
Rockford found themselves starting their first drive from the 20-yard line after the West Ottawa kickoff went through the end zone. The Rams used 2:11 seconds to cover 80 yards, ending with Zach Schmuck carrying the ball the final six yards for a touchdown, giving the Rams a 7-0 lead after the extra point by Steve Mette.
Rockford’s second scoring drive was set up by the defense when Anthony DeDamos recovered a West Ottawa fumble at the Panthers’ 45-yard line. The Rams used the next 1:13 to cover the 55 yards, scoring their second touchdown with one second left in the half on a touchdown pass from Mark LaPrairie to Neil VanderLaan, giving them a 14-0 lead.
West Ottawa showed life in the opening drive of the second half, by going 79 yards in seven minutes. The Panthers’ ground attack punished the Rams’ defense for 12 plays before Zac Boersma plunged the final two yards into the end zone to cut Rockford’s lead in half.
It would also be the final score of the night.
Coach Munger gave high praise to the defensive play of his Rams. “This was the best defensive effort of our season. The defense looked awesome tonight. I was thrilled by the way they flew to the ball the whole game.”
Munger added, “Our first drive was a beautiful thing. The backs ran the ball hard, but we’re still looking for consistency from the offense. Our offense is close to exploding; we’re just missing little details right now.”
The Ram defense held West Ottawa’s ground attack to an average of 3.7 yards per carry. They gave up only 160 yards on the night.
This Friday, Rockford’s game will be with the Muskegon Big Reds. The match-up of two perennial West Michigan football juggernauts will take place at Fifth Third Ball Park. Parking will be $5 per vehicle, tickets will be $7 for adults and $5 for students, with all proceeds going to the Rockford High School athletic department.