BY DAVID PEDERSEN
Turnovers and field position were key factors allowing the Rockford football game against Watertown-Mayer to “get out of hand” in the 52-20 home loss Thursday to open the season.
“This isn’t the way we thought we would start off the season,” said coach Dan Houghton about his team that ended last season in the section title game. “Give credit to Watertown-Mayer for making plays when they needed to and winning this game.”
The Royals struck first on a 56-yard run. Rockford answered with an 88-yard touchdown run by senior Nick Suardi, giving the Rockets a 7-6 lead.
After WM regained the lead on a 65-yard run, the Rockets had a blocked punt and fumble, both inside their own 20 yard line. Within six minutes of game time the score took a dramatic turn, putting the Royals up 25-7.
Each team traded possessions multiple times before the Royals punched one in with 1:46 left in the half. Rockford junior quarterback Brock Deering led the team on a seven-play, 65-yard drive, capped off with a touchdown pass to Brendon Schumacher to make the halftime score 32-14.
In the second half the Rockets couldn’t get much going offensive besides the 83-yard kick return by Nick Suardi.
On defense, Rockford’s leading tackler was senior linebacker Ben Arens with 11, followed by Andrew Meuwissen (10), Logan Suko (8), Jake Clouse (7), Kane Vogel (7) and Dylan Fitzsimmons (7).
Deering completed 6 of 11 passes for 76 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Schumacher caught four passes for 51 yards and one score. Suardi had one catch for 17 yards and Jordan Redepenning had one for eight yards.
Suardi led the ground game by rushing for 100 yards even on 10 carries.
The Rockets play at Eden Valley-Watkins Eagles, 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 7. Last year EV-W won 42-14. This season both teams lost the non-conference opener. The next home game is Sept. 14 against Kimball Area.