Rockford bursts past Holt, wins football battle of the Rams

by TIM COOPER

Brandon Lubenow scores his second touchdown of the game after receiving a pass from Kyle Short. Photo by JIM COOPER

Not since 2002 had the Rockford Rams lost two games in a row. Rockford hadn’t gone 0-2 to start a season since 1978. Only four times since 1950 have they dropped the first two games of the year.

After a week one loss to Lowell, and the perennial state power Holt Rams coming to town, it appeared avoiding that fate would be a daunting task. In the previous five games, Rockford had gone 3-2 against Holt, defeating Holt 27-24 last year in a tremendous come-from-behind effort.

With the opening kickoff, Rockford’s special teams took control of the game. Using their “starburst” kick return, Brandon Lubenow raced 96 yards for the first score of the game.

On the ensuing kickoff, a Holt fumble returned the ball to Rockford on the 11-yard line. One play later, Ryan Hartley broke through the Holt defense for a touchdown, giving Rockford a 14-0 lead just 26 seconds into the game.

After a Holt punt, Rockford drove 50 yards on eight plays, capped off by Connor Darby’s 5-yard run, making the score 21-0.

Holt’s bright spot in the first half came when Rockford fumbled a punt reception at their own 49-yard line. The visitors finished the drive early in the second quarter with a 3-yard touchdown run by quarterback Justin Alleman.

Connor Darby breaks through the Holt defense. Darby had two touchdowns on the night. Photo by JIM COOPER

For much of the second quarter, the two teams exchanged drives with each other, until Rockford quarterback Kyle Short found Lubenow open in the end zone to extend the lead by seven. The score remained 28-7 as the two teams headed into the locker rooms for halftime.

The second half opened with an 80-yard Holt drive that ended when Rockford’s KC Zenner recovered a fumble in the end zone to out the ball back in Short’s hands.

When Rockford was forced to punt on the following drive, kicker Steve Mette’s punt pinned Holt deep into their own territory.

After Holt drove to midfield, Dylan Rodriguez recovered a fumble to give the ball back to Rockford’s offense. Darby, who had 29- and 11-yard runs in the following series, also finished the drive by taking the ball five yards for a touchdown. Mette’s extra point made the score 35-7.

The Rockford defense proves to be too much for the visiting Holt Rams. Photo by JIM COOPER

Rockford’s final score of the evening came when running back Connor Grady burst through the Holt defense for a 27-yard touchdown.

Rockford’s next opponent will be the Buccaneers of Grand Haven, as OK Red conference action kicks off. The Bucs will travel to Rockford as the Rams continue their three-game home stand.

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