Second Half Surge Leads Warriors Past Regents

Chance Manning
Chance Manning

MILWAUKEE, Wis. - The Rockford University football team hit the road on Saturday looking for its first NACC win of the season when the Regents paid a visit to the Wisconsin Lutheran College Warriors. The Regents and Warriors have met 18 times since both schools started football in 2000 with Wisconsin Lutheran leading the all-time series 15-3. Saturday's game was close for most of the day as neither team led by more than seven points until partway through the third quarter. Ultimately it was the Warriors' rushing attack that was the difference in the game, as Wisconsin Lutheran piled up 298 yards on the ground en route to a 41-20 victory.

The game got off to a great start as Rockford took the opening kickoff and drove 75 yards for a touchdown. Junior running back Chance Manning (Durand, Ill.) was the workhorse on the drive racking up 63 yards on four carries including busting a 50 yard run on Rockford's first play from scrimmage. However, it was freshman quarterback Eric Mackey (Marengo, Ill.) who capped off the drive when he found Jon Kaifesh (Greenfield, Wis.) in the end zone for a 4-yard touchdown to give his team a 6-0 lead. 

Rockford's lead would last until the end of the first quarter when Wisconsin Lutheran scored 13 straight points to jump in front for the first time in the game. The Warriors took advantage of two Regent miscues, a fumble on their own 15-yard line and a turnover on downs at the Warrior 5-yard line. Following the fumble, Wisconsin Lutheran needed just 4 plays to find the end zone and knot the game at six. Fortunately Austin Carlson (Hanover Park, Ill.) came up with a huge play, blocking the extra point to temporarily keep the game tied. It seemed as though Rockford would regain the lead on their very next possession when the Regents moved the ball 77 yards down to the Warrior 5-yard line. Unfortunately, the Regents were stopped on third and one and fourth and one giving the ball back to the Warrior offense. Wisconsin Lutheran then promptly went 95 yards on 12 plays to take their first lead of the day at 13-7. 

The score remained the same until the Regents found the end zone on their first possession of the second half. Rockford needed just three plays to cover 80 yards and tie the game at 13. The big play on the drive came when Mackey again connected with Kaifesh, this time on a 64-yard pass play to move the ball into the red zone. One play later, Chance Manning scampered 13 yards into the end zone to tie the game. 

Unfortunately just like in the first half, Wisconsin Lutheran then scored on back-to-back possessions to leap out in front 27-13. Both scores came on long runs with the first covering 56 yards and the second covering 33 yards. 

Rockford's final touchdown of the game came on the very next possession. The Regents covered 75 yards on 6 plays thanks in large part to multiple big plays on the drive. Eric Mackey connected on a 25-yard pass play to Adam Ambrogio (Rockford, Ill.), followed by a 30-yard Chance Manning run to give Rockford a first and goal at the 9-yard line. Two plays later, Mackey connected with Kalan Miller (Cordova, Tenn.) for a 6-yard touchdown pass to pull Rockford back within seven points. Unfortunately the Regents were unable to get any closer as Wisconsin Lutheran scored on each of its next two possessions seal a 41-20 victory. 

Offensively the Regents racked up 335 yards of total offense. Chance Manning led the Rockford ground attack carrying the ball 20 times for 151 yards and 1 score. Quarterback Eric Mackey completed eleven passes for 180 yards and 2 touchdowns. Jon Kaifesh was Rockford's leading receiver with 3 receptions for 84 yards and 1 touchdown.

Defensively Rockford had four players record at least seven tackles in the game. Jallen Bashford (Fairbury, Ill.) led the way with a game-high 12 tackles including 1.5 tackles for loss. Jacob Cremeens (Roscoe, Ill.) tallied a season-high 10 tackles with 6 solo tackles. Dylan Peterson (Reynolds, Ill.) and Malik Johnson (Chicago, Ill.) also both played well recording 8 and 7 tackles respectively.

The RU football team returns home on Saturday, October 14 to face Concordia University Chicago. Kickoff is set for 1 PM at Sam Greeley Field.