ROCKFORD, Mich. — Christian Tanner accounted for four touchdowns and East Kentwood’s defense suffocated the Rockford offense in a 38-12 win Friday night in the playoff opener.
The Falcons racked up 453 yards of total offense while holding the Rams to just 188 with three turnovers. Tanner accounted for 265 yards of East Kentwood offense and scored four touchdowns.
Ball security was a problem for the Rams from the moment the game kicked off. After recovering their own fumble on the opening kickoff, Rockford’s first drive ended on a lost fumble.
Senior running back Josh Ledesma broke off a 38-yard run two plays later and then scored shortly after on a 13-yard scamper as East Kentwood opened a 7-0 lead.
The Falcons’ defense forced a three-and-out on the next drive and then took the ball down the field again and Tanner connected on a 27-yard field goal with 30 seconds remaining in the first quarter.
Holding onto the ball became a problem again for Rockford to open the second quarter as another drive ended in a lost fumble.
Once again, East Kentwood’s offense took advantage of the extra possession and marched down the field to score a touchdown on a 17-yard run by Tanner. He tacked on another touchdown with a sneak with less than three minutes left in the first half and the Falcons took a 24-0 lead into halftime.
Rockford scored its first points when a high snap went out of the back of the end zone for a safety less than a minute in the third quarter to cut the deficit to 24-2.
The Rams got the ball off the safety and found a way to get more points on the board when junior kicker Teagen Lenderink boomed a 43-yard field goal.
Rockford’s positive momentum extended to the defense. On the first play of East Kentwood’s next drive, the Rams sacked Tanner for a 10-yard loss. Unfortunately for Rockford, that’s when it came to an end.
Ledesma ripped off a 20-yard gain on second-and-20 and then Tanner threw a 70-yard bomb to junior Willie Berris for a score.
East Kentwood had possession to start the fourth quarter and started it off with another long touchdown pass from Tanner to Berris.
Rockford finally crossed the goal line on offense on its next drive thanks to a few connections between junior quarterback Chris Corey and senior receiver Eli Haddad. The touchdown came on a 21-yard reception by Haddad through tight coverage from an East Kentwood defender.