ROCKFORD, Ill.- The Rockford University football team returned to action today searching for their first Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference victory against Aurora University. The Regents came off of a tough loss last week and were looking to rebound with a statement victory over the first place Spartans. Rockford battled with Aurora for the full 60 minutes before falling by the final of 28-21.
In the opening quarter the Regents and Spartans were locked in a defensive battle as neither team was able to put any points on the board. Rockford was outstanding at playing a bend but don't break defense. They continuously got Aurora off the field for the first 25 minutes of the game. However, with just over 6 minutes remaining in the second quarter, the Regents allowed their first touchdown of the game, falling behind 7-0. Rockford responded on their next possession with Chance Manning (Durand, Ill.) running into the end zone from nine yards out to cap off an 8-play, 71-yard drive. The outstanding drive brought the game back into a tie at 7-7. Unfortunately, Aurora answered on their next drive to take the lead 14-7 into the half.
Opening the third quarter the Spartans received the kickoff. The Regent defense stopped their offense on fourth down to force a turnover on downs. Rockford wasted no time on their next drive as Darion Hornickel (Lowell, Ind.) rolled right and threw back across the field to Manning for a perfectly stet up screen play. Manning housed it as he ran 65 yards for the touchdown with some impressive blocking to knot the score back up at 14. On the following drive, Aurora, again scored a touchdown to gain the lead as two Rockford defenders attempted to break up the pass and were unable to do so. On the ensuing kickoff, Joe Breeden (Burlington, Ill.) had an exceptional return for 42 yards to give the Regents great field position on Aurora's side of the field. Rockford capitalized on the field position when Hornickel dumped a pass off to Shundale Wilcox (Peoria, Ill.) who scampered in the end zone from 12 yards out for the touchdown. The score again brought the game back to a tie, 21-21.
Each team had an opportunity to score but were both denied late in the third quarter and beginning the fourth quarter. Unfortunately, the Spartans were able to punch the ball in late in the fourth quarter with less than four minutes remaining in the game to take the lead 28-21. Rockford had their final opportunity come up short as they turned the ball over on downs. The Spartans were able to kneel the ball down on their final drive to close out the game. Ultimately, Rockford fell by the final of 28-21.
Leading the Regents defensively were sophomore Jose Robles (Round Lake, Ill.) totaling 9 tackles, 7 solo and 2 assisted. Sophomore Lamear Downes (Detroit, Mich.) posted 8 tackles, all solo, and 1 pass breakup. Freshman Jacob Byczynski (Seatonville, Ill.) recorded a career-high 8 tackles, 6 solo and 2 assists, with 0.5 tackles for loss for 2 yards.
Leading Rockford offensively were freshman Darion Hornickel who was 16-of-25 passing for 219 yards and 2 touchdowns. Sophomore Chance Manning led the team with 55 yards rushing on 15 attempts and a touchdown and 65 yards receiving with a touchdown. Junior Joe Breeden led the team with 5 receptions.
The Rockford University football team will return to action Saturday, October 29 at Albion College in Albion, Mich. with a scheduled start time of 12 p.m. CST.