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Game Recap: Rockford 17, Caledonia 14
Last night’s game featured two quarterbacks playing at a very high level, two stout defenses that made big time plays in crucial moments, and a two-hour lightning delay that served as a precursor to one of the best games played across West Michigan this season.
Rockford got on the board first when Zak Ahern scrambled in from 10 yards out midway through the first quarter to put the Rams up 7-0. A couple of possessions later, Ram’s kicker Jackson Burkholder kicked a 25-yard field goal to extend Rockford’s lead to 10-0.
Just before the half ended, Caledonia’s Mason McKenzie took advantage of a busted coverage and connected with sophomore Brock Townsend for a 30-yard touchdown pass to cut Rockford’s lead to 10-7.
In the second half, the Fighting Scots continued to build on it’s momentum when McKenzie hit Justice Reed for a two-yard touchdown pass to take the lead 14-10 with just under five minutes left in the third quarter.
The beginning of the fourth quarter was dominated by both defenses as each team traded punts and turnovers on downs. Then, deep inside Caledonia territory, Rockford’s Andrew Griffin, who moved to the defensive line in the wake of Kade Kostus’s injury, came up with the play of the evening by stripping a Caledonia ball carrier and coming up with the turnover.
After several unsuccessful plays to open the drive following the turnover, Ahern scrambled around the pocket and laced a perfect pass just past the outstretched fingertips of a Caledonia defender to connect with Mac VandenHout, giving Rockford the go-ahead lead with just over five minutes left in the game.
Rockford’s defense held off a last chance effort from Caledonia, highlighted by Tyler Vroman’s pass breakup on 4th down.
Zak Ahern, QB, Rockford 2022”
With senior running back Jonah Spates out due to injury, Zak Ahern was asked to be the primary ball carrier. Caledonia made him work for everything that he got, but he was still able to get loose for multiple big runs and a score. I’ve yet to see a defender match Ahern’s speed to the edge. The play of the game on the offensive side of the ball belonged to Zak’s 4th quarter completion on 3rd and long, when he threw a perfect pass just past the fingertips of a Caledonia defender.
Mason McKenzie, QB, Caledonia 2023”
It took Caledonia a quarter and a half for it’s offense to get rolling, but once it did, it was easy to see why. Mason used his legs to generate several big plays for Caledonia, including one run that went for 50+ yards. Late in the game, McKenzie kept the Fighting Scots alive on a few big time throws on 3rd and 4th and long. He showed a lot of poise for a junior quarterback in what was probably the biggest game of his career thus far.
Jack Lamancusa, DE, Rockford 2022”
Jack was a frequent visitor of the Caledonia backfield on Friday night. The senior defensive end created havoc on a consistent basis by using a quick first step to blow past Caledonia’s offensive line and blow up Caledonia’s plays before they got started.
Andrew DeVries, DT, Caledonia 2022”
Andrew anchored Caledonia’s defensive line last night, disrupting Rockford’s run game for a full four quarters. Rockford was forced to go to the edge to generate any type of offense in the run game, in large part because DeVries filled the Ram’s running lanes and took away any big play opportunities.
Aidan Kowtach, S, Caledonia 2022”
Aidan was excellent in pass coverage all night. He broke up several big plays in the passing game and helped limit any Rockford runs in the middle of the field.
Samuel Watts, S, Rockford 2022”
Samuel was excellent on defense, providing great pass coverage and helping limit Caledonia’s big plays on the ground. I thought he was most impactful returning punts for the Rams. He was able to generate a couple of big returns, helping Rockford with field position and setting the Rams offense up with a shorter field.