Football's Comeback Effort Falls Short as Muskies Top Regents

Brice Spence
Brice Spence

PLYMOUTH, Wis. - The Rockford University football team concluded its season with a 57-31 loss on the road to the 2017 NACC Champion Lakeland University Muskies (8-2, 6-0 NACC). Lakeland seized control of the game early on scoring on each of its first four possession to jump out to a commanding 30-0 lead in the second quarter. From that point forward though, the Regents outscored the Muskies 31-27, but it was not enough as Lakeland cruised to a 57-31 victory to secure its fourth straight NACC Championship.

After a difficult opening quarter, Rockford began to play much better. The Regents scored their first touchdown of the afternoon midway through the second quarter on a 12-play, 60-yard drive. Rockford methodically worked its way down the field running the ball on 10 of the 12 plays to account for 45 of the 60 yards. Freshman Brandon Hausladen (Athol, Idaho) then capped off the drive with a 2-yard touchdown run, his first rushing touchdown of the season. 

Still trailing 37-6 in the early moments of the third quarter, Rockford found the end zone for the second time in the game. This time however, it was the Rockford passing attack that did the majority of the damage. Quarterback Delayno Mack (Loves Park, Ill.) was a perfect 3-for-3 on the drive including completions of 38 yards to Liam Joyce (Harvard, Ill.) and 21 yards to Adam Ambrogio (Rockford, Ill.). Mack ultimately capped off the drive with a 3-yard strike to Kalan Miller (Cordova, Tenn.) to cut the Muskie lead to 37-12. However the Muskies responded with touchdowns on back-to-back drives to take a 50-12 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

Despite the large deficit, Rockford continued play hard scoring a trio of touchdowns over the final 15 minutes. The first of those came just moments into the fourth quarter when Brandon Hausladen scampered 37 yards for his second rushing touchdown of the game. Following another Lakeland score, the Regents found the end zone for the second time in as many possessions. Sophomore running back Drake Barlow (Amboy, Ill.) set up the score with 60-yard run down to the Lakeland seven. Two plays later, Mack found Jon Kaifesh (Greenfield, Wis.) for a 12-yard touchdown pass. Rockford's final score of the day came on its very next possession. Running back Drake Barlow was again heavily involved as he touched the ball on eight of the nine plays. Barlow carried the ball 7 times for 30 yards before catching a 3-yard touchdown pass from Delayno Mack. Unfortunately the Muskies proceeded to run out the clock on their next possession to seal the win. 

Offensively the Regents racked up 256 yards rushing and 155 yards passing. Delayno Mack led the Rockford air attack going 7-of-12 for 115 yards with 3 touchdowns and 0 interceptions. Drake Barlow led the Rockford ground attack with 95 yards rushing on just 9 carries. Brandon Hausladen finished with 69 yards rushing and 2 scores. Adam Ambrogio was the team's leading receiver with 2 catches for 59 yards. 

Defensively Rockford was able to force one turnover and record a pair of sacks. Junior Brice Spence (Corinth, Miss.) led the Regents with a season-high 13 tackles including a team-high 9 solo tackles. Zachary Bothem (Roscoe, Ill.) tallied 9 tackles and intercepted his first pass of the season. Jallen Bashford (Fairbury, Ill.) finished with 9 tackles and 1 sack, while Jared Johnson (Miami, Fla.) recorded 8 tackles and 1 sack.

The RU football team concluded the 2017 season with a 1-8 overall record including a 1-6 mark in NACC play. The Regents will finish in a tie for fifth place in the Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference, their highest since 2014.