ROCKFORD, Mich. (WOOD) — Caledonia’s Brock Townsend returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown on Friday night to momentarily quiet the home crowd.
The Rockford football team was unfazed by it.
The Rams shook off the effects of the early score and used a big third quarter to roll past the Fighting Scots 42-16 in a key early-season game between OK Red conference frontrunners.
Rockford, ranked No. 2 in Division 1, improved to 4-0 while handing the top-ranked team in Division 2 their first loss of the season.
“There was some adversity right there, and good teams are going to find a way to overcome that and move on to the next play,” Rams Coach Brent Cummings said. “You have to have a short memory and come out and do your job, and I think the guys did that. They played to the best of their abilities. And we made some mistakes, penalty-wise, but overall I’m proud of the kids and the way they competed tonight.”
Rockford senior quarterback Drake Irwin, who tossed three touchdowns, said the team never lost focus after Caledonia struck first.
“We never lost our spirit, and we did what we did after that,” Irwin said. “They are a great team, definitely one of the best in the Red, so this is a great win. It really sets the stage for us for the rest of the season.”
The Rams evened the score in the first quarter on a touchdown run by Ryan Ahern and then went ahead 14-7 on an 84-yard punt return for a touchdown from junior Isaac Poot.
Caledonia trimmed the Rockford lead to 14-10 at the half with a field goal before the Rams broke it open in the third quarter.
Rockford scored 28 consecutive points to put the game out of reach.
“A goal of ours was to come out strong in the second half,” Cummings said. “I think as a team we wanted to see that improvement. Each week, we look for ways to improve, and to come out after halftime like that was great to see. I’m proud of the way our guys listened to adjustments and came out swinging in the second half.”
Irwin threw all three of his touchdowns in the third quarter, two to Cam Kruisenga from 72 and 46 yards out and another to Seth Anderson (26 yards).
“It all started with play calling and the offensive line,” Irwin said. “We executed very well.”
Kruisenga finished with 5 catches for 178 yards.
“I’ve been throwing to him since middle school, so I just know where to throw it to him and he’s going to run under it,” Irwin said.
Rockford’s defense didn’t allow a touchdown until late in the fourth quarter.