by TIM COOPER and MATT WEAVER
Good things don’t always come in small packages.
As running back Brady Gent was about to score his fourth touchdown to cap off a brilliant night, no one expected to see the ball pop out of his sure hands. Even more unexpected was big offensive lineman Ivy Johnson falling on it in the end zone.
Johnson had a swarm of Rockford students gather around him after the win over the Grand Haven Buccaneers on Friday, Sept. 9 on home turf. “It feels great,” Johnson said. “I’ve been a lineman my entire life. This is a dream come true.”
The fumble by Gent was a minor hiccup in a tremendous performance for the senior. Gent had three touchdowns and 163 yards on the night.
Coach Ralph Munger said of Gent, “ He’s running hard. He had a great night. He seems to get better with each night, just as a number of our guys are.”
The Rams were truly dominant from the start, as KC Zenner returned a punt 75 yards for a Rockford touchdown just 3:59 into the game. Ryan Hartnagel returned a block punt 1:40 later for a second Ram touchdown, giving Rockford a 14-0 early in the game.
Grand Haven tried to bounce back, scoring exactly one minute later on a Dakota Smith touchdown. After a Rockford three-and-out, the Buccaneers capitalized, bringing themselves to within four points after a field goal with 3:14 left in the first.
The two teams then traded possessions for the following eight minutes, until Gent ran 36 yards for the first of his three touchdowns, making the score 21-10.
The score went unchanged until the 4:37 mark in the third quarter, when the Buccaneers again went to Smith, this time on a 21-yard pass from quarterback Scott Staal. A failed two-point conversion left the score at 21-16.
The Rams again answered right back, scoring on an eight-play, 2:44 second drive that ended with a 14-yard run by Gent. Rockford’s successful two-pointer made the score 29-16.
Gent’s third touchdown came on Rockford’s next possession, when he pounded the ball into the end zone from the 1-yard line. An incomplete pass on the two-point conversion attempt failed, leaving Rockford with a 19-point lead.
Grand Haven tried to make one last major attempt at a comeback, as Smith scored
his third touchdown of the night with 8:40 remaining in the game. Johnson’s fumble recovery for a touchdown with 4:16 effectively killed the Buccaneers’ hopes, however, as it would have meant Grand Haven needing three scores in just over four minutes to close their 42-23 deficit.
The Buccaneers did manage to score once more, but ran out of time after they recovered the onside kick. The final score was 42-30 in a solid performance for the Rams.
Coach Munger was pleased to see his players step up for the game. “We expected a big game, and we got one. Grand Haven has a great program,” he said.
Friday, Sept. 16, the Rams finish their three-game home stand when the Panthers from West Ottawa come to the Ted.