By Randy Gregory,
Michigan Sports Radio
Photo courtesy of Miles Postema.
Rockford stayed perfect on the season at 8-0 after cruising past a winless Holland West Ottawa squad 62-14 at Carlson-Munger Stadium in Rockford on Friday, October 15. The huge home throng in attendance witnessed what has been an almost weekly occurrence for the past two years as stalwart senior quarterback Zak Ahern led the way for the Rams as he passed for three touchdowns and ran for another two. Ahern was 12-16 passing for 205 yards and ran for an additional 80 yards on only eight attempts. The TD passes ranged from a short two-yard strike to Alex McLean to a pair of beautifully thrown deep balls to Leo VanderWiel for 39 yards and Tyler Vroman for 56.
“We talked about making sure that everyone did their own job all week coming into this game,” said Rockford Coach Brent Cummings. “It was neat to see so many kids get a chance to play tonight and many of them did an outstanding job when they got their chance. It looked like our timing has continued to get better as the season has progressed. Zak and our receivers have continued to work very hard and the results are continuing to show up.”
After Ahern scored on a 12-yard jaunt around the left side with 5:07 left in the first quarter to make it a 7-0 Rockford lead after the first of eight successful PATs from Jackson Burkholder, West Ottawa struck back with a 25-yard TD pass with 1:41 left in the opening stanza. The missed point after from the Panthers left Rockford holding a narrow 7-6 lead and offered a glimmer of hope to a team stuck in the doldrums of a 24-game losing streak. But the Rams would tally the next 48 points to make it a 55-6 contest.
The next score was the two-yard pass to McLean in the right front part of the end zone to make it 13-6 entering quarter two. Andrew Griffin would recover a fumble at the Panther 28 to set up the next Ram score. This time it was Ryan Ahern who broke a pair of arm tackles to burst in from 10 yards out to give the Rams a 20-6 lead. That was followed shortly thereafter by the 39-yard deep shot over the middle to VanderWiel to make it 27-6. Just before the half, Zak Ahern rumbled for a 24-yard scoring run as he lowered his shoulder near the end zone to make it 34-6 at the half.
The second half saw Zak Ahern get in for exactly three plays before exiting for the duration. That third play was the 56-yard bomb to Vroman on a fly route that increased the lead to 41-6 and set the running clock in motion. Two plays later the Ram defense broke into the scoring column. Thys Segard forced a fumble from the Panther quarterback that was recovered in the end zone by Rick Beison to make it a 48-6 game. Mac VandenHout came in at QB for the Rams on the following possession and promptly hit Cam Deuel for a two-yard scoring strike right over the middle that made it a 55-6 Ram lead late in the third quarter.
West Ottawa got a TD and two-point conversion to make it a 55-14 game in the final quarter but the Rams were not quite finished scoring for the night. This time it was RJ Todd who hooked up with JT Ten Eyck for a ten-yard TD pass deep in the right side of the end zone on a banner play for the all initials members of the Ram team. That concluded the scoring at 62-14 and sent the greatly reduced Ram contingent home in an ebullient mood.
That made three different quarterbacks who threw TD passes for the Rams and five different receivers who snagged one. McLean and VandenHout led the Ram receivers with three catches apiece for 27 and 40 yards respectively. Vroman had a pair of catches for 77 yards for the Rams. Defensively the Rams were led by Rick Beisen with seven tackles while Segard, Griffin, Colby Weston, Derrik Schuring and Jack Lamancusa all pitched in with five.
Rockford will look to finish out a perfect regular season next week when they travel to Grand Haven on Friday, October 22. A win would secure home field for Rockford for at least the first three rounds of the MHSAA playoffs should they continue to advance. Kickoff is slated for 7:00 P.M.