JACKSONVILLE, Ill. - The Rockford University football team (1-0) picked up an impressive 35-25 road win over MacMurray College (0-1) on Saturday afternoon. Although less than 20 yards of total offense separated the two schools, the difference in the game was Rockford's ability to dominate the time of possession and win the turnover battle. Rockford controlled both the tempo and pace of the game, especially in the second half when the Regents held the ball for nearly 21 minutes compared to just nine minutes for the Highlanders. The Regents ran 21 more plays throughout the game and eventually wore down the MacMurray defense. Rockford also dominated the turnover battle (5-1), as the Regents recovered four fumbles and intercepted a pass. Rockford has now defeated MacMurray in back-to-back seasons and holds a 4-2 edge in the series.
- The RU defense came up with the first big play of the game on its first series of the season. Six plays into the Highlander drive, Rockford's Austin Carlson knocked the ball loose at midfield and Dylan Peterson was there to recover it.
- Rockford took advantage of the MacMurray miscue by methodically working the ball down the field for the first score of the game. The Regents' drive went 12 plays and covered 54 yards, including converting on a fourth and one, capped off by a one-yard touchdown run from LaVar Johnson Jr. Rockford's lead remained 6-0 after the extra point was blocked.
- The MacMurray offense was finally able to break through and put points on the board early in the second quarter. It took the Highlanders just four plays to cover 70 yards and give themselves a first and goal at the Rockford 10-yard line. Fortunately, the RU defense stepped up and held the Highlanders to a 21-yard field goal, as Rockford remained in front 6-3.
- However, the Highlanders would score on their very next possession to take their first lead of the game. MacMurray went 59 yards on 11 plays, capped off by two-yard Ethan Downs touchdown run. The extra point was good, to give MacMurray a 10-6 lead.
- Rockford would retake the lead late in the first half with their second touchdown of the day. The Regents needed just four plays to cover 44 yards, capped off by a Kalan Miller 24-yard touchdown pass from Delayno Mack. Gerardo Zamudio converted the point after, to give Rockford a 13-10 advantage.
- MacMurray had a chance to tie or take the lead late in the half, as the Highlanders had the ball inside the red zone with 30 seconds left. However, the RU defense was again up to the task, forcing a turnover on downs, as the Regents entered the half with a 3-point lead.
- MacMurray was able to retake the lead on its second possession of the third quarter. The Highlanders drove the ball 79 yards on nine plays to take a 17-13 advantage.
- The RU special teams came up with the next big play in the game to set up its offense with a short field. RU punter Gerardo Zamudio booted the ball 47 yards to the MacMurray 30-yard line where it subsequently ricocheted off a MacMurray player and was recovered by the Regents at the MacMurray 26-yard line.
- One play later, Paul Barmore Jr. scampered 26 yards for the touchdown, as Rockford retook the lead at 20-17.
- Rockford seemingly would put the game away with its fourth touchdown of the game midway through the fourth quarter. The RU offense put together a 16-play drive that covered 72 yards and used 7:21 off the clock. LaVar Johnson Jr. barreled into the end zone from 1-yard out to extend Rockford's lead to 27-17.
- However, the Highlanders would not go away quietly. MacMurray responded with a 55-yard touchdown drive that took less than minute off the clock to make it a one-possession game. The Highlanders connected on the two-point conversion to make the score 27-25.
- The RU special teams again came up with a big play on the ensuing kickoff, when Ja'uan Joiner returned the kick 41 yards to the MacMurray 49-yard line. The RU offense slowly and methodically moved the ball down the field over the next 3:45, until Delayno Mack plunged into the end zone from one yard out. What happened next was probably one of the craziest plays you will ever see. MacMurray blocked the ensuing point after attempt, but the ball was picked up by Rockford's Adam Ambrogio who then threw it to a wide open Joshua Page to complete the two-point conversion and give Rockford a 35-25 lead.
- The Rockford defense ended the game two plays into MacMurray's next possession, when Jallen Bashford intercepted Bobby Tedesco to secure the 35-25 victory.
- Delayno Mack was 27-of-42 for 199 yards and 2 total touchdowns (1 pass, 1 rush).
- Chris Hammonds carried the ball 14 times for a team-high 55 yards.
- LaVar Johnson Jr. had 14 carries for 53 yards and 2 touchdowns.
- Paul Barmore Jr. ran the ball 10 times for 54 yards and one score.
- Kalan Miller led the receiving corps with 7 receptions for 72 yards and a touchdown.
- Joey Owens added 6 receptions for 57 yards.
- Jallen Bashford tallied a team-high 13 tackles and intercepted a pass.
- Austin Carlson finished with 10 tackles including 0.5 tackle for loss and forced a fumble.
- Ja'uan Joiner made 8 tackles including 1.5 tackles for loss and had a career-high 5 pass breakups.
- Stephen Santeramo had a career-high 7 tackles and forced a fumble.
- Takhari Bowens forced a fumble and had a sack.
- Dylan Peterson and Bryce LaFollet each recovered a fumble.
The RU football team returns to the field next Saturday, September 14 at Martin Luther College. Kickoff is set for 1:00 PM.