ROCKFORD, Ill.- The Rockford University football team returned to action Saturday in their season finale against Lakeland University. The Regents celebrated their five seniors Michael Watson (Schaumburg, Ill.), Colbey Stigsell (Litchfield Park, Ariz.), Dominique Campbell (Waterloo, Iowa), Tyler Clark (Schaumburg, Ill.) and Andrew Perez (West Covina, Calif.). All five of the seniors played major roles in the team's success during their tenure in a Rockford uniform.
The Regents started slowly in the game falling behind by multiple touchdowns in the first half. Rockford concluded the half with 4 first downs on 96 total yards of offense. They were trailing by the score of 50-0.
However, immediately out of the gates in the third quarter, the Regents flipped the switch on the Muskies and began to chip away at the lead. Chance Manning (Durand, Ill.) got into the end zone for a 50 yard scamper to put Rockford on the board first in the third quarter. Manning's run capped off a 3 play, 65 yard drive, all coming from Manning. Unfortunately, the PAT was blocked and returned for a defensive PAT, which is good for two points for the defense, making the score 52-6.
The Rockford defense stepped up in the second half forcing four turnovers. The Regents held the Muskies to only 20 yards of total offense in the second half.
Lakeland's first possession in the second half they fumbled the ball and it was recovered by Jerry Henderson (Elk Grove, Ill.) at the Lakeland 41-yard line. The Regents took advantage of the turnover when Manning scored his second touchdown of the game from four yards out to close the scoring gap to 52-12. The rushing touchdown capped off a 9 play, 41 yard drive.
In Lakeland's second possession, again the Rockford defense came up with another turnover as Tre Hatchett (Springfield, Ill.) intercepted a pass at the RU 40-yard line, and returned it to the LU 38-yard line for 22 yards. Again the Regents took advantage of great field position as Mar Sean Vercher (Chicago, Ill.) caught a three-yard touchdown pass from Perez. Vercher caught both passes on the drive for 38 yards. The touchdown brought the score to 52-18. Rockford's defense stepped up again on their following possession as Jacob Cremeens (Roscoe, Ill.) forced a fumble which again was recovered by Hatchett and returned 15 yards to the LU 35-yard line. The Regents continued to cash in on the great field position as Vercher caught another touchdown pass, his second of the game, from Perez to narrow the margin to 52-24. Also, with the touchdown reception, Vercher broke the school's single-season touchdown receptions record with 10.
To start the fourth quarter, Rockford stopped the Lakeland defense for a three-and-out to begin yet another scoring opportunity. Perez capped off a beautiful 13 play, 79 yard drive, with a four-yard touchdown run. The touchdown brought the score to 52-30.
Rockford had one last outstanding scoring opportunity as Watson recovered a botched snap to the Lakeland punter. The ball was recovered at the LU 21. However, Rockford was unable to capitalize on the field position throwing an interception in the end zone. Ultimately, the Regents were unable to close the gap any further falling by the final of 52-30.
Leading Rockford offensively were Andrew Perez completing 15 of 28 passes for 198 yards and 2 touchdowns. Mar Sean Vercher caught 8 passes for 104 yards and 2 touchdowns. Chance Manning rushed 22 times for 153 yards and 2 touchdowns. With the outstanding rushing effort, Manning eclipsed the 1,000 yards mark. He is the first Regent to break the 1,000 yard mark since 2004.
Leading Rockford defensively were Michael Watson with 17 total tackles on the day, to finish with 80 on the season. Jacob Cremeens added 9 tackles, 1 sack, and 1 forced fumble. Tre Hatchett added an interception and a fumble recovery.