WATERTOWN, WI – Maranatha played the Rockford Regents tough, trailing by just 14-13 entering the second quarter, behind a strong defensive effort, but it was the visiting team that pulled away with a 34-13 win on gusty and sunny Saturday afternoon.
Rockford opened the game, electing to receive, and faced a stiff Maranatha defense that bent but didn’t break. The Regents advanced to the Maranatha 12-yard line before linebackers Ethan Kennon (Raleigh, N.C.) and Jordan Dersch (Prattville, AL) took down Rockford’s Milton Phillips Jr. (Rockford, IL) for a one-yard loss and on a third and 10; Dersch and junior defensive lineman Jesse Gjefle (Ontario, WI) sacked the quarterback for a five-yard loss.
Rockford would score on their next two drives though, their first, a 25-yard touchdown pass with 7:04 on the clock, and the second, a 62-yard completion for the 14-0 lead with just five minutes left in the half.
But sophomore quarterback Brandon McCormick (Edwards, IL) led his team on a six-play, 3:00 drive that ended with a beautifully thrown pass to junior receiver Jordan De Lay (Flint, MI) on a touchdown that cut the deficit to 14-7 at 2:10.
The Crusader defense forced a quick three-and-out on Rockford’s next drive to give Maranatha the ball back with just under a minute and a half to play. The offense rewarded the defense, taking just 28 seconds for McCormick to connect with DeLay again, this time on a 32-yard strike. The extra point attempt failed, but Maranatha trailed just 14-13 heading into the halftime break.
Rockford tried to find an offensive rhythm, but was once again disrupted by Dersch and Gjefle, this time on a three-yard sack, and a penalty on the next play forced the Regents to punt.
After a three-and-out by the Maranatha offense, Rockford launched a 29-yard pass, vaulting them to a 21-13 lead, in the only points scored by either team during the entire quarter.
Maranatha dominated possession time during the third quarter, but failed to convert, coming close on their last drive after reaching Rockford’s 12-yard line. On that drive, freshman running back Clint Saxon (Watertown, WI) provided a big spark with gains of 24 and 18 yards.
The fourth quarter belonged to Rockford, with the Regents scoring on their opening two possessions on rushing touchdowns by linebacker Seth Swinehart (Rockford, IL) while running out the clock to drop Maranatha to 1-6 overall on the season.
Kennon spearheaded the defense with 18 tackles, two for loss, a forced fumble and a pass breakup while Dersch posted nine tackles, three for loss, with two sacks.
McCormick finished the day with 177 yards passing, and two touchdowns, but the running game received a huge lift from Saxon, who finished the game with 141 yards rushing for a 6.7 average per carry. De Lay played strong with five receptions for 89 yards and two touchdowns.