ROCK FALLS – Coming off a tough loss last week at home, Genoa-Kingston was chomping at the bit to get back on the field in Week 5.
The Cogs took control from the start Friday night at Hinders Field, beating Rock Falls 58-6 after completely dominating the first half.
G-K (4-1) outgained the Rockets (0-5) 199 to minus-30 in the first half, with four sacks of the quarterback helping push Rock Falls’ total backward.
“We were very confident. We came here ready to play,” junior lineman/linebacker Ryan Swider said. “After we got our first touchdown, I think it got us rolling and got us in a good mindset.”
The first touchdown ended a six-play, 65-yard drive to start the game, as Brody Engel ran in from 17 yards out one play after his 6-yard touchdown run was called back due to a holding penalty.
After Genoa-Kingston forced a three-and-out, the Rock Falls punt hit the back of one of the up-backs, and G-K took over at the 5-yard line; Brady Brewick scored from 3 yards out on the second play.
Rock Falls went three-and-out again, and this time Engel received the punt around midfield and returned it up the left sideline for a touchdown and a 21-0 lead.
“It was great to score so many ways. I feel like it helps us get our confidence back,” said Engel, who ran for 65 yards and two touchdowns on three carries to go with his punt return TD. “We were definitely pissed off from last week, I would say, and the whole team was fired up and locked in the whole week. I think it was just a good win for us to get our confidence back, get us rolling back into the season.”
The Rockets punted again, and this time Maddox Lavender (4 rushes, 83 yards) took the second play 23 yards to the end zone for a 28-0 lead; Engel ran in from 44 yards on the next play after a Rock Falls three-and-out for a 34-0 lead.
A fifth RF three-and-out led to a 34-yard touchdown run by Traven Atterberry, giving the Cogs a 41-0 lead less than 4 minutes into the second quarter.
“I feel like we were able to get off the ball pretty well. After last week, we kind of knew that we needed to come in this week a little bit stronger,” Engel said. “Our line needed to get off the line quicker, get their down-blocks better, just scoop and climb, stay low, and I think we did that pretty well tonight.”
The next Rock Falls series lasted one play, as a fumbled handoff at the 15-yard line was scooped up by Swider and returned for a touchdown. That gave the Cogs a score on offense, defense and special teams in the first 15:37 of the game.
“I saw the ball, and thought, ‘Hey, I can grab it and run for a touchdown.’ It was the weirdest thing ever, because I’ve never scored a touchdown before,” Swider said with a huge smile. “As a linebacker and on the line, I’m not really a guy who scores touchdowns. It was super. As soon as I got that ball, I knew where to go.”
“That’s a program we aspire to be,” Rock Falls coach Kevin Parker said. “With a younger team, we’re going to have some growing pains getting better. When you make mistakes against a team like that, you just know the way it’s going to go.”
Rock Falls punted again, but a personal foul penalty forced G-K to turn the ball over on downs. The Rockets then failed to convert on fourth down, and the Cogs ran out the clock to halftime.
Rock Falls ran 23 plays in the first half; eight of them went for negative yards, and seven more went for zero yards on runs or incomplete passes.
“Basically every single practice we’re trying as hard as we can, and we’re specifically focused on what their offense does,” Swider said. “We just constantly repped it all week, and we’ve been conditioning hard this week, too, so we were ready for what they wanted to do.”
The opening drive of the third quarter was the bright spot for the Rockets. Starting at their own 25-yard line, they drove 75 yards in 13 plays, with Kohle Bradley taking it in from 2 yards out with 2:23 left in the quarter. Bradley and Ryan McCord both had multiple strong runs, and freshman quarterback Logan Thome ran the offense well.
Bradley finished with 31 yards on eight carries, and also had two catches for 9 yards. McCord ran eight times for 30 yards.
“We see things every game that we can build on. The last couple weeks, we ran the ball well at times. It’s a matter of doing it all the time,” Parker said. “For some reason, this team doesn’t like to come out and play well until they get down, then we start playing better.
“We’re excited about the future, and as long as these kids continue to commit and put the effort out there, we’re going to see improvement.”
Rock Falls then forced a G-K punt, but a fumble on the first play led to Jorge Leon’s 36-yard field goal with 7:50 to play. A failed fourth-down conversion by the Rockets gave the Cogs the ball back at the Rock Falls 21, and Nolan Kline ran in from 4 yards out with 2:20 to play to cap the scoring.