Week 2: Aquin vs Rockford Christian
In what was looking to be no season for the Royal Lions turned into a favorable one, as they assumed the AFC Raiders schedule after a turn of events forced AFC to move out of 11-man football earlier than expected. The Royal Lions would have a hefty first game on the record as they matched up with the #2 ranked Aquin Bulldogs at Pretzel Stadium Saturday afternoon.
Aquin would get things going quickly. After the opening kickoff went out of bounds to give Rockford Christian the ball at their own 35 yard line, Royal Lions QB Caden Norquist would make quick connections to Gage Wiebe and Isaiah Johnson. However, the next Norquist pass would be intercepted by Aquin's Evan Broge.
The Bulldogs would take over at their own 19 yard line, but would make room quickly as William Gustafson connected twice with Andrew Bowman for 51 yards, and Ty Stykel would chip in 20 yards rushing, along with Gustafson keeping the ball himself on a couple carries. Stykel would punch it in from a yard out to get the Dawgs on the board. A Broge PAT kick was good and Aquin was up 7-0 with 5:03 left in the 1st quarter.
On the Royal Lions next series, Norquist would complete 7 consecutive passes, connecting with Ahren Norquist, Johnson, and Tyler Matthews, while getting 14 yards on the ground from Noah Ross. Getting to the Bulldog 8 yard line, Ross would punch it in and Ben Wood would connect on the PAT kick to tie the game up headed to the 2nd quarter.
On Aquin's 3rd series of the game they would drive 52 yards in just under 3 minutes as Gustafson would have completions to Christian Becke and Brennan Carlson, and take matters on the ground with his legs. With 7:10 remaining until half Gustafson would punch it in from 2 yards out. The Broge kick was good and the Dawgs powered back in front 14-7.
The Bulldogs would force the Royal Lions to punt on their next series and begin their drive from their own 44 yard line. About 1:30 later Gustafson connected with Carlson on a 15 yard pass play to the right corner of the end zone for the score. The Dawgs would go up 21-7 with 3:13 left in the half after the PAT kick was good.
Rockford Christian would not settle to go away, responding quickly as Norquist would connect with Wiebe on a 51 yard TD pass with 1:25 left before halftime. The Wood kick was good to cut the deficit to 21-14 in favor of Aquin.
The excitement rose as Aquin got the ball back at their own 20 yard line with 1:25 to go. Set up with bag pass plays to Carlson and Bowman from Gustafson once again, the Dawgs would go back on Gustafson's legs to put the ball in the end zone from 2 yards out with 22 seconds remaining. After Broge's kick was good the Dawgs extended their lead to 28-14.
The Royal Lions would try to do something, but Broge picked off his second pass of the day to halt any threats before the half.
The second half of the game belonged to Ty Stykel. On Aquin's first series of the second half Stykel would break off a 35 yard run for a TD to push Aquin further in front 35-14 with 9:48 remaining in the 3rd quarter.
The Bulldogs looked to be putting the route on as they forced Rockford Christian to punt and subsequently went on the ground to get the ball to the 5 yard line. Gustafson dropped back to pass, threw to his left, and Noah Ross picked him off at the 3 yard line and returned it 97 yards to paydirt to close the gap to 35-21 in favor of Aquin.
Not to let it effect him, Gustafson responded on the next series with a 36 yard TD pass to Andrew Bowman. The PAT kick was no good, but Aquin was up 41-21 with 3:38 left in the 3rd quarter.
The Bulldogs would force a punt, but then got greedy with less than a minute left in the 3rd. Gustafson went for broke on a pass play down the left sideline that Isaiah Johnson stepped in front of.
It didn't lead to anything as Aquin forced a quick 4 and out and took over on downs at the Royal Lions 27 yard line. Gustafson would rush the ball in from 3 yards out for his 3rd rushing touchdown on the day. The PAT kick failed again, but Aquin was up 47-21 with 10:22 left in the game.
The Royal Lions wouldn't back down as Norquist connected with Wiebe on a 63 yard strike with 9:36 still left in teh game. After Ben Wood kicked the PAT Aquin's lead was cut to 47-28.
Stykel would close out the game with 2 more rushing touchdowns in the last 7 minutes, and the Aquin defense turned up the pressure, forcing Norquist to fumble twice with Andrew Bowman recovering the first one, and Christian Becke recovering the second one as Norquist was trying to get in the end zone from the 1 yard line.
Aquin would close out the game with a 61-28 win over Rockford Christian.
Ty Stykel would finish the day with 221 yards rushing on 28 attempts with 4 TD's. Gustafson would have a big day, surpassing 3,000 passing yards in his career, along with 5,000 total offensive yards in his career with 226 yards passing going 11-17 with 2 TD's and adding 86 yards rushing with 3 TD's. Andrew Bowman would pull in 5 receptions for 135 yards and 1 TD, while Brennan Carlson had 65 yards on 3 receptions and 1 TD. Evan Broge was 7-9 in the kicking game and had 2 interceptions on defense.
Rockford Christian was paced by Caden Norquist who was 23-30 passing for 272 yards and 2 TD's. Isaiah Johnson hauled in 13 passes for 98 yards and the 1 interception on defense. Gage Wiebe finished the day with 6 receptions for 142 yards and 2 TD's. Noah Ross had 16 yards rushing to go with his 97 yard TD return on an interception.
Aquin (2-0) will travel to Milledgeville (2-0) next Saturday in a battle of unbeatens. Rockford Christian (0-1) will head to Stockton (0-2) in a crossover matchup.