ROCK FALLS – Known for its aerial attack, Rock Falls instead relied on its ground forces and a stout defense to earn its first win of 2013 on Friday night.
Rockets quarterback Jacob Mammosser ran for two touchdowns and passed for another, and the Rock Falls defense held Marengo to 185 yards in a 22-21 Big Northern crossover clash at Hinders Field.
“Our defense was phenomenal,” Rockets coach Scott Berge said. “We played downhill. We played fast, and we really got after it. Our guys up front really played tremendous. They were amazing. Our linebacker play was outstanding. The defense was there all night.”
Mammosser was 20-for-34 for 153 yards. He had one passing TD and an interception. He also ran for 84 yards.
“They completely said, ‘You’re not going to throw on us,’” Mammosser said. “They took everything away. They said, ‘If you’re going to win, you’re going to do it with your legs.”
Trailing 21-14 after Marengo broke a 14-all tie with 4:40 left in the third quarter, the Rockets needed a big play. They got it, as Trenden Schwindenhammer dropped the kickoff before busting off a 78-yard return from one 11 to the other.
Three plays later, Mammosser appeared to score on the ground, but the Rockets were whistled for aiding the runner and the TD was taken away. Three plays after that, Rock Falls turned the ball over on downs at the Marengo 4.
The Rockets’ defense forced a quick three-and-out, and a short punt put Rock Falls at the Indians’ 23. After three runs for 19 yards by Brendon LeBarron, who carried 21 times for 78 yards, Mammosser scored from 4 yards out on the last play of the third quarter.
Mammosser then hit Lucas Newburgh in the high corner of the end zone for the go-ahead two-point conversion.
Marengo had three more possessions, but Rock Falls forced turnovers on each of them. Indians backup quarterback Zach Knoblock threw two interceptions, and Marengo fumbled away its final opportunity.
Connor Cain had both interceptions, the second with 5:08 to play after the Indians had reached the Rockets’ 10.
“The clock’s winding down. We knew they had to throw,” Cain said. “I knew the quarterback had to go up again, and I took advantage of it.”
Rock Falls’ Nicholas Yates recovered Marengo’s fumble at the Rockets’ 41 with 53 seconds remaining.
The Rockets went right down the field on their opening possession, marching 65 yards. Mammosser went in from 13 yards out to cap it, but the point after missed and it was 6-0 at the 8:32 mark of the first quarter.
Marengo went in front 14-6 with a 60-yard TD drive and, later, a 74-yard interception return.
Rock Falls pulled even with a 60-yard scoring drive capped by a 6-yard Mammosser to Austin Donoho (10 receptions, 50 yards) connection. Mammosser then hit Newburgh for another two-pointer to make it 14-all with 6:04 left in the third.
Key performers: Brendon LeBarron, Rock Falls, 78 rushing yards; Connor Cain, Rock Falls, 2 interceptions