Photo courtesy of Miles Postema

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On Friday night in Holland, a pair of teams squared off for a guaranteed share of the OK Red Championship. Before the season, many people believed that the Rams would be in the conference race into mid-October, but very few people would have expected that the Panthers would be in the same boat. A back and forth battle ensued tonight, and West Ottawa continued their Cinderella run through the OK Red, clinching at least a share of the league championship with a 35-30 win.

In the first quarter, both teams flexed their defensive muscles as they each recorded a touchdown on a turnover. West Ottawa struck first as Jason Fairfield intercepted Drew Bareno’s pass and returned it twenty-two yards for the touchdown, giving them a 7-0 lead. About four minutes later, Taylor Green scooped up a fumble and returned it 24 yards for a touchdown to even the score at seven.

The second quarter was dominated by the Rams as they scored all sixteen points to take a commanding 23-7 lead to the break. They got a pair of Maliq Thompson touchdowns and a safety, and it appeared that they were going to blow this game wide-open.

The Panthers were resilient, as they took the opening kickoff of the second half back 99 yards for a touchdown. This started an impressive third quarter run for West Ottawa as Isaac Van Dyk found Xavier Wade for a 26 yard touchdown pass to cut the margin to just two points. With 4:23 left in the third, Van Dyk decided to keep it on his own, and the two-yard scamper put West Ottawa out in front 28-23.

In the final quarter, both teams exchanged deep touchdown passes, but it did nothing to affect the outcome of the contest. West Ottawa defeated Rockford 35-30, their first win over the Rams since 2002. West Ottawa now takes over sole possession in the OK Red Standings, and they also qualified for the playoffs for the first time since 2014. For Rockford, they fall to 4-3 on the season, leaving them two wins away from automatic qualification for the playoffs. They will try to reach this plateau in the final two games against East Kentwood and Hudsonville, both at home.


1Q 4:04WO 7-0J.Fairfield 22yd INT Return
1Q 0:247-7 tiedT.Green 24yd Fumble Ret
2Q 9:49ROCK 14-7M.Thompson 65yd run
2Q 8:40ROCK 16-7SAFETY
2Q 1:47ROCK 23-7M.Thompson 3yd run
3Q 11:48ROCK 23-14S.Kesse-Townsend 99 KO
3Q 8:21ROCK 23-21X.Wade 26yd receiving
3Q 4:23WO 28-23I. Van Dyk 2yd run
4Q 9:58WO 35-23M.Young 55yd receiving
4Q 5:58WO 35-30K.Cushman 65yd recieving