Kuemper Knights hand Rams first gridiron loss

Ram fans have been excited by the Rams’ high scoring offense and tough defense that led to a 5-0 record, but realistic fans admitted the Rams hadn’t yet played a really tough team.

The Rams met a tough team in the Kuemper Knights in Carroll Friday night and took their first loss of the season, a 16-8 loss in which the Rams were held scoreless until the fourth quarter. The Kuemper defense was faster than what the Rams have seen, giving Ram quarterback Brent Riley less time to pass and cutting into the aerial yardage, and also holding Ram rushers to fewer yards. The Knights’ win resulted from two intercepted passes, both of which resulted in touchdowns.The Rams trailed for the first time this season after the Knights scored with 28 seconds to play in the first quarter. The Knights had the first possession of the game. The teams traded possessions until the Rams’ third possession when Alex Heiman intercepted a Brent Riley pass, the sixth time Riley has been intercepted this season.

The interception gave the Knights the ball on the 50 yard line. They scored six plays later on a 32-yard run by Nate Wendl. The Simon Wagner point after touchdown kick was good and the Knights led 7-0.

The Knights intercepted another Riley pass less than a minute into the second quarter. Knight Corbin Borelli made the interception and ran 21 yards to put the ball on the Rams’ 4 yard line. Wendl again took the ball over the goal line. The PAT wasn’t good, but the Knights were ahead 13-0.

After last week’s game without punting, the Rams punted to end their next three possessions. Ram Carter Morton intercepted QB Cole Collison’s pass and the Rams had the ball on their own 35 yard line. The Ram offense was again stymied and punted the ball at fourth and 8. The Knights needed to punt when a pair of penalties moved them 32 yards away from the line of scrimmage.

On the Rams’ first play, with 55 seconds left in the half, Riley connected with Lance Hughes for a 40-yard pass play  and the Rams were on the Knights 32 yard line. They made it to the Knights’ 20 yard line for the first time in the game, but they ran out of downs and time before the end of the half. The Rams punted once during the quarter and twice they tried unsuccessfully to convert on the fourth down.

Neither team scored in the third quarter, although the quarter ended with the Tigers on the Ram 16 yard line at second down and 12. The Knights were at first and goal on the Rams’ 2 yard line, but after a 5 yard penalty against them, they weren’t able to score a TD. With 9:36 to play in the fourth quarter Wagner kicked a 33 yard field goal to put the Knights up 16-0. It was a 10-play, 39 -yard drive.

The Rams got on the scoreboard just 1:04 later. They used five plays to move the ball 65 yards, started off by a 37-yard Riley to Carter Morton pass play and a 25-yard pass play to Will Hansen. Dennhardt carried the ball the last yard over the goal line. The Rams scored on a two-point conversion with Riley running an option play. With 8:31 to play in the game the Rams were down 8-16.

Unfortunately, the Rams weren’t able to keep momentum going. The Knights and the Rams both punted on their next possession. With the Knights on their own 42 yard line and 5:55 to play on the clock, the Rams gave them 15 easy yards when the defense was drawn offsides on four of the next 10 plays, twice on consecutive plays. The Rams didn’t get the ball back again. The game ended with the Knights on the Rams’ 13 yard line and on the better side of a 16-8 score.

For the game the Rams punted seven times. They punted six times in their season opener against Perry, five times against Nevada,  once in their games against Saydel and Gilbert, and not at all against Shenandoah. Austin Delp averaged 35.4 yards per punt, with his longest punt 41 yards.

The Rams totaled just 214 yards of offense – 186 of them through the air with Riley connecting on 15 of 36 passes for 41.7 percent. Dennhardt rushed for 23 yards and Kafer rushed for 18, but Riley rushed for -13 yards.

Defensive stats were not available as of Sunday afternoon.

The loss moves the Knights to 3-3 overall and 2-0 in Class 2A District 9. The Rams have the better record overall, at 5-1, but they’re now 1-1 in the district.

The Rams host the Atlantic Trojans for their homecoming game next Friday, Oct. 5.

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