Illinois High School Football News

Rockridge offense explodes in 2nd half, shuts down Newman for 1st win of the season

Newman’s Gabe Padilla looks for yards against Rockridge Friday, Sept. 2, 2022.

STERLING – Newman’s offense struggled to sustain any drives in Friday’s home opener vs. Rockridge, punting five times in a scoreless first half before losing to the nonconference foe, 33-8.

Junior defensive back Carter Rude scored the lone Comets’ touchdown in the fourth quarter with 7:01 to play, cutting the deficit to 26-8 temporarily.

“I think the big thing in that game is we were in a position when we came out of halftime, we thought we could grab some momentum and we just kind of got shut down on it. I think if we grabbed that, it kind of changes the course of the game,” Newman coach Mike LeMay said. “We were just really sloppy with some things. Our line play was pretty rough, and that’s something we’re going to have to get better at. We’re trying to evolve and be a team that’s going to fit our personnel, and it’s something that we’ve just gotta be able to embrace. And that’s a tough Rockridge team. They had a tough game for Week 1 against Princeton, and they came back and they were ready to go. And now it’s our turn to go ahead and respond in Week 3.”

In the first half, Peyton Locke scored his first of three touchdowns on a 10-yard run to put Rockridge ahead 6-0 with 6:48 left in the second quarter.

The Rockets took a 12-0 lead with 2:26 left in the third quarter after a Ryan Lower scoop-and-score touchdown off a JJ Castle fumble. Initially, the play looked like it might be an incomplete pass but the official ruling after discussion was a fumble.

Newman had a promising drive going late in the third quarter, led by Castle, who completed passes of 9, 7 and 24 yards, but it stalled before the Comets could reach the red zone and ended in another punt.

After Rockridge’s defense forced a turnover on downs with 11:45 left in regulation, quarterback Jacob Payne hit Locke deep over the middle of the field for a 55-yard touchdown, extending the Rockets’ lead to 20-0.

In the last 7:10 of the game, Bayne tossed two more touchdowns. The first came on a perfectly lofted 29-yard deep shot to Locke, who had a defender trailing by a yard or so. The next came with 4:10 to play, as Bayne went to Kameron Bohnsack in the right corner of the end zone for a 19-yard score.

Castle broke a 25-yard run on the final Newman drive to move the ball into Rockridge territory, but the drive fizzled out quickly.

“We kind of talked at halftime, and it was a very vocal talk about how we needed to do little things better that will translate to big points on the field,” Rockridge coach Sam Graves said. “We felt like we were in control of that game, but let our little mistakes just take us out of drives constantly, offensively. There was a couple things we talked about defensively where it felt, for the most part, like we could shut them down. We knew fixing some small mistakes could get us some points on the board.”