Rockford drops semifinal game to Davison, falls short of state title

Football Frenzy

ROCKFORD, Mich. (WOOD) — Davison took control of the clock on offense and didn’t allow a touchdown on defense in its 27-3 route of Rockford in the Division I semifinal round of the state playoffs on Saturday at Ted Carlson Stadium.

The Rockford Rams (9-1) lost its first game of the 2020-21 season full of pauses and gaps between practices and games due to COVID-19. The Davison Cardinals (11-0) continue their perfect season to Ford Field to play for back-to-back state titles.

Rockford’s head coach Brent Cummings said he has a lot to be proud of from his team despite the disappointing finish.

“That is a heckuva football team that we just played,” Cummings said. “But we still have a lot to be thankful for. Defensively, they had a great game plan and momentum is a big deal and they seemed to have it and we didn’t.

“It’s OK to hurt, but we have a lot of good things to focus on with the challenges we had to overcome throughout the entire season,” Cummings continued.

Rockford High School plays Davison High School in the Division I football state semifinal on Jan. 16, 2021.

For Davison, this game played out to all of its strengths and it never trailed.

The Cardinals got the scoring started on the ground with TaVion Warren who powered his way across the goal line on a 10-yard scamper toward the sideline. It was only the start of a 100-yard plus rushing effort from the senior.

The Rams would answer with a field goal on the following possession made by kicker Jackson Burkholder, trimming the Cardinal lead to 7-3. That’s the closest the Rams would get for the remainder of the afternoon.

The next drive for the Cardinals was probably one of the biggest reasons it took control of the game. Between Warren and quarterback Dion Brown Jr., Davison continued to have chunk plays that weren’t flashy but wore down the Rams’ defense. The Cardinal line was pushing around defenders anywhere it wanted to, and the Rams couldn’t stop it. 

After taking more than 10 minutes off the clock, Warren scored his second touchdown from five yards out, bulldozing over defenders and stretching the ball across the goal line. It made the score 13-3 with just 4:10 left in the opening half.

“They have a lot of guys on that team who are very well coached, and you can tell by their play,” Cummings said. “It was hard to make adjustments against them.”

In the second half, the Rams got a stop on defense and the offense took over inside its own 10-yard line. With the third quarter about halfway over, it felt like the Rams needed a score of some kind to stay alive in this game.

Rockford High School plays Davison High School in the Division I football state semifinal on Jan. 16, 2021.

Instead, Rockford quarterback Zak Ahern was intercepted on a tipped pass, which landed in defensive lineman William Watkin’s hands, who then rumbled across the goal line for the score. It was 20-3 and there was no turning back from there for the Cardinals.

The Cardinals have only given up 76 points in 11 games on the season, which is better than a year ago when they allowed just 128 on its journey to the program’s first state title.

With the victory over Rockford, Davison needs a win against West Bloomfield (10-1) on Jan. 23 at 1 p.m. for its second state title in many years.

As for the Rams, they had a season full of challenges. The team missed a pair of games due to COVID-19 but came roaring back to make it to the semifinal round of states. The Rams were only allowing 13.7 points per game on defense coming into play and won 40-17 over Saline in the regional final. 

With the loss, the streak now goes to 13 years since the Rams have made the state final.

For Cummings in his first season as the Rams head coach, he learned a lot.

“I couldn’t be more thankful to work alongside a great coaching staff and some wonderful young men,” Cummings said. “They dealt with a lot and handled in a great way and were going to make sure we thank these kids.”

Mona Shores, Grand Rapids Catholic Central and Montague are all heading to the state finals from the West Michigan area after winning their state semifinal matchup.

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