ROCKFORD, Mich. (WOOD) — The Rockford and Grandville rivalry lived up to the billing in Friday night’s Division 1 district finals.
Rockford pulled out a dramatic 34-28 win in triple overtime over the visiting Bulldogs in a back-and-forth tussle.
The Rams advance to play Saline next week in regional play.
“Grandville is a heck of a team, and obviously they had a great game plan,” Rams coach Brent Cummings said. “They are a well-coached program, and on both sides, it was just a heck of a high school football game. Obviously, tonight we came out on top and I could not be more proud of our kids to keep fighting all the way through.”
After both teams scored touchdowns in the first half, the score remained 7-7 until late in the fourth quarter.
Rockford grabbed the lead late when quarterback Zak Ahern connected with Alex McLean on a 20-yard pass play.
Grandville, however, answered with a big play of its own.
With less than 2 minutes remaining, the Bulldogs converted a 4th-and-15 as quarterback Ian Sanders found Marcel Love to knot the score at 14-14 and send it to overtime.
In the first overtime, Grandville scored first and was one defensive stop from the win when Rockford pulled off a trick play on fourth down to keep the game going.
“We run it all the time in practice,” Cummings said. “We run it a few times to make sure we are sharp on it, so if we ever have the opportunity to run it, we will execute it.”
In the third overtime, Rockford stopped the Bulldogs at the 1-yard line to get the ball back.
On the first play, Ahern found Caden Currie in the back of the end zone and he got one foot down to secure the thrilling victory.
“Caden has been grinding all year and I knew we were going to have a shot and he made the play,” Ahern said. “All of the credit goes to Grandville. They are a great team, but we practiced for moments like this and I’m so proud of this team. Emotions were high, but we pulled it out and it was a great team win.”
The Rams overcame four turnovers as Grandville’s defense recorded three interceptions and also had a fumble recovery.
“It was sloppy, and we have things we can improve on, but you dream of these games as a kid growing up through rocket football,” Cummings said. “To have the chance to play in something like this in front of the home crowd and to come out victorious is special for them.”