The Rockford Rams and Traverse City West Titans are familiar foes in the postseason. On Friday night at Thirlby Field in Traverse City, it would be the ninth time that these two faced off in the playoffs. For the ninth time, the result was the same. The Rams emerged victorious in this one yet again, but it was a close 18-13 contest.
Just twenty-five seconds into the game, Rockford struck for a big-play touchdown. Jaiden Friesen broke a 58-yard run through the teeth of the Titans’ defense for touchdown to give the Rams an early 6-0 advantage. On their next drive, the Rams got back on the board again. Nate Bareno was on the recieiving end of a Chris Corey pass, and the fourteen-yard connection resulted in six more points. For the second straight time, the extra point was blocked however.
Up 12-0 after the first, the stout Rams defense held serve for another twelve minutes. They pitched a first half shutout, allowing the team to enter the locker room ahead by two scores.
The defenses were strong throughout this one, as neither team would score in the third quarter. The 45 minute scoring drought for the Titans was finally snapped with 2:23 to play. Sam DeKuiper used the long ball to connect with Patrick O’Connor on an 81-yard touchdown to bring TC West within six points at 12-6.
On the ensuing kick return, Dylan Dams fielded onside kick and took it all the way to the house. A third unsuccessful extra point would leave Rockford’s lead at twelve points, 18-6. With thirty-five seconds left, TC West got on the board again as DeKuiper kept it on a one-yard sneak. The successful extra-point brought the Titans within five points.
Rockford was able to hang on at the end of this one to advance to the second round of the playoffs for the sixteenth straight season. They will have an OK Red rematch in next week’s district finals when they travel to Hudsonville. The Eagles played a remarkable game on Friday night against West Ottawa. In the last meeting during the regular season, Rockford defeated Hudsonville 13-7 back in Week 7.