HUDSONVILLE, Mich. (WOOD) — It was a game that the Rockford football team needed to win for a couple reasons.
The Rams needed a win to help keep their playoff aspirations alive, as well as keep their O-K Red Conference title hopes intact.
Despite finding the end zone only once, Rockford came away with a crucial 13-7 road win over Hudsonville Friday night.
The Rams improved to 4-3 overall and 3-1 in conference play. They stayed one game back of first place East Kentwood.
It was Hudsonville’s first loss in conference play as it dropped to 5-3 overall and 3-1 in the conference. The Eagles missed an opportunity to earn a playoff berth.
“In every phase of the game with us, we have to continue to minimize our errors and we need to celebrate the things that we do well,” Rockford coach Ralph Munger said. “So, we had a number of both tonight and we’re just happy as heck that we survived this one. It was a hard-fought game, and Hudsonville is very talented.”
Rockford jumped out to an early 3-0 lead on a 38-yard field goal by Teagen Lenderink in the first quarter, but the Eagles pulled ahead with a trick play in the second quarter.
Hudsonville pulled off a fake field goal as Brennan Hayes found Bryce Herrema for a 3-yard score to give the Eagles a 7-3 lead.
The Rams chipped away and got another field goal by Lenderink from 37 yards out to make it 7-6.
Rockford regained the lead late in the third after a long drive was capped by a 28-yard touchdown strike from Chris Corey to Eli Haddad.
“It was a slant-and-go, and the corner played great coverage,” Haddad said. “I tried to go inside and I cut it back out and it was a good ball by Chris, back shoulder. That’s always hard to cover and I just caught the ball like I’m supposed to do. That’s my job.”
Hudsonville reached the Rams’ 18-yard late in the fourth, but its comeback attempt fell short after a fourth-down pass failed.
Munger didn’t want to put the game on one play and was thrilled to finally have his teams make plays on both sides of the ball with the game on the line.
“We made a couple first downs when we needed to, finally, doing things like that correctly,” Munger said. “And the defense, finally, playing real well at the end. If we didn’t make that touchdown play, then we wouldn’t be talking right now. You would be talking to the other guy.”
The Rams have two more key games remaining against Grandville and East Kentwood in their quest to reach the playoffs and win a conference title
“We’re playing it every down, every series and every quarter,” Munger said. “That’s the way we have to live right now.
“We have a couple games left out there, but we’re going to enjoy this one and then we will figure out who’s next. Then we’re going to work and prepare.”
Hudsonville, which started 4-0 but has lost two of its last three games, has two more chances to claim a playoff bid while still in the hunt for the conference championship.
The Eagles play East Kentwood next week and close with defending conference champion West Ottawa.