HUDSONVILLE, Mich. (WOOD) — Rockford sophomore wideout Eli Haddad has had chances to make game-winning plays before.
His execution of one to give his team a 13-7 win over Hudsonville on the road Friday meant more than most.
“It’s a game we had to have,” Haddad said. “They are the moments you always envision, it was humbling to have it actually happen.”
The touchdown he scored late in the third quarter came on a fade route to the corner of the end zone. He said he tumbled over the defender as he caught the ball and when he landed felt relief that he caught it.
It was a moment Haddad will never forget.
“The corner played great defense but the throw from Chris (Corey) was perfect to my back shoulder,” Haddad said. “I’m just glad I could do it for my team.”
The catch and eventual game-winning score put the Rams (4-3, 3-1 OK-Red) in a first-place tie of the conference with Hudsonville (5-2, 3-1) with just a pair of games remaining in the regular season.
Head coach Ralph Munger said it’s not easy to beat a team as good as Hudsonville.
“We need to continue to minimize the errors we make and celebrate the things we do right” Munger said. “We’re happy that we survived this one and luckily we made a couple more plays than they did on offense.”
Up until Haddad’s score, the Rams struggled to find any offense at all. Any time they would drive down the field they would stall into a field goal try.
The Eagles were able to succeed on a fake field goal that got them to the three-yard line late in the first half. They took advantage with a score that looked for a while to be the difference.
On a third-and-goal, sophomore quarterback Brennan Hayes found senior running back Bryce Herrema for a 3-yard screen pass score. The Eagles took their first lead of the game at 7-3.
After another Rams field goal to make it 7-6, they got a quick stop on Hudsonville and Haddad got his chance.
Haddad said at that point in the game, it was a catch he needed to make.
“Our coaching kept our defense focused throughout the week and thankfully we had good defense,” Haddad said. “I take (the catch) with pride. Always have to be respectful, but that one did feel good.”
The Rams will head home for a 7 p.m. contest Oct. 12 against Grandville.
Currently Rockford is on a three-game winning streak. Munger said he doesn’t care who the opponent is, they simply need to get ready week by week.
“We need to enjoy this one right now then prepare for the next team,” Munger said. “Right now, we are preparing every down, every series and every quarter. That’s the way we have to live right now.”