Rams football team ends regular season with 8-1 record

Ram fans couldn’t have expected the sort of game they saw at Linduska Field Friday when the Rams hosted the Odebolt-Arthur/Battle Creek/Ida Grove Falcons for the last regular game of the season. They certainly weren’t expecting most of the second half to be played with a continuous clock, nor the 49-6 victory for the Rams.

Both teams took the field with 7-1 records. The Rams had better scoring statistics, scoring an average of 38.25 points per game and allowing an average of 9.25 points, while the Falcons scored an average of 34 points per game and allowed 16.75 points.

Hanging over the Rams was the Falcons’ powerful aerial game. Senior quarterback Kaden Ladwig came in with a completion percentage of 59.9 and a quarterback rating of 169.3. Ram junior quarterback Brent Riley had a completion percentage of 49 and a rating of 142.5.

Also, the Rams’ only loss of the season was to the Kuemper Knights of Carroll, a team the Falcons beat convincingly last week by a 47-19 score.

With a shot at post season play on the line, the Rams played their best game of the season. The Ram defense thwarted Ladwig’s passing, allowing him to complete 11 of 28 passes, just 39 percent. Those 11 passes totaled 199 yards. Along with that, the Falcons picked up only 13 yards rushing.

The Ram offense line gave Riley better protection than in recent games. He completed 13 of 19 passes for 68 percent, and totaled 283 yard in the air. The offense line blocked when they needed to, setting up running backs Clint Dennhardt and Colby Kafer for 86 and 88 yard respectively.

The game started well for the Rams. The visiting Falcons received the kick-off and started on their own 24 yard line. The Falcons fumbled on the first play and Ram senior Lance Hughes recovered the fumble and returned it to the Falcons’ 5 yard line. A holding penalty against the Rams moved the ball out to the 15 yard line. The Falcon defense held the Rams at the 7 yard line, but junior kicker Cael Fisher was within field goal range. He kicked a 24 yard field goal, his second field goal of the season, and with 10:11 on the clock the Rams were ahead 3-0.

The Rams scored another field goal with 4:20 to play in the quarter, with a drive that included three first downs. They were at second and goal on the 5 yard line when an offsides penalty against the Rams moved the ball back to the 10. The Falcon defense again held the Rams, and Fisher again kicked a field goal, this time from 27 yards out. With 4:20 to play in the quarter the score was 6-0.

It was a defensive game, and this time it was the Ram defense that held the Falcons on downs at the Ram 10 yard line with 3:14 to play in the first quarter. The Rams used 13 plays and 3 minutes, 45 seconds of clock to score a touchdown, despite the best efforts of the Falcons. The Rams were at fourth and 5 on the Falcon 49 yard line. They set up to punt, but a fake to Dennhardt and a pass to Nick Breon got the needed yardage. It was first and 10 on the Falcon 40 yard line. The Rams were at third and 10 on the Falcon 29 when a Brent Riley pass to Trey Hinote got the first down on the Falcon 29. A 15-yard penalty against the Falcons gave the Rams second and 1 on the 6 yard line.

Dennhardt took the ball across the goal line and the Rams were up 12-0 with 10:26 to play in the first half. The Rams tried a conversion. They were whistled for a 5-yard penalty for having an extra man in the huddle, requiring them to get an extra five yards to score, but they made the distance with a pass to Hughes and the Rams were up 14-0.

The Falcons started their next possession on their own 20 yard line. Ladwig’s passes took his team down to the Ram 19 yard line, but again, the Ram defense held on the 3 yard line.
The Rams this time took over the ball at their own 3 yard line. A penalty against the Falcons gave the Rams some breathing room. They were on their 27 yard line when Austin Delp punted to put the Falcon offense on their own 36 yard line. That possession ended with a punt and the Rams had the ball on their 49 yard line. Riley was sacked on the first play, making it second and 16 on the Ram 43 yard line. Riley connected with Hughes on a 32-yard pass and it was first and 10 on the Falcon 25. Kafer picked up six yards rushing on the next play. Riley next passed to Hughes in the back corner of the end zone to grow the Rams’ lead to 20-0. Fisher kicked the point after touchdown and the score was 21-0 with 2:11 to play in the first half.

The Rams scored once more in the half on a three-play, 49-yard drive. On the first play Riley passed to Hughes again for 44 yards and the Rams were at first and goal on the 5. Dennhardt rushed for four yards and then took the ball the last yard to score. Fisher’s PAT was good and the score was 28-0 with 18 seconds to play in the half.

The Ram lead was despite incurring 90 yards in penalties.

The Rams came out to score less than a minute into the second half. They received the kick to start the half at their own 35 yard line. Dennhardt rushed the ball to the Falcon 40 yard line in three plays. A penalty against the Rams moved the ball back to the Rams’ 47 yard line. At first down and 23 yards Riley threw a pass that Hughes caught against the back of a Falcon defensive player. The ball popped in the air and Hughes claimed and made it to the endzone. Fisher hit the mark on the PAT and with 10:08 to play in the third quarter the Rams were ahead 35-0. The clock was set to run continuously, the first time all season the Falcons were on the wrong side of a continuous clock.

The Ram defense held the Falcons on the next drive despite giving them 50 yards via penalties. The drive ended on the Ram 18 yard line. Spirits continued running high; on one play the Rams were called for three penalties for 21 yards. The Rams ended up punting from their own 25 yard line. Delp’s punt went 36 yards; it was returned eight yards, putting the ball on the Falcons’ 47 yard line. The Falcons fumbled on the first play and Will Hansen was there to recover it. With 59 seconds to play in the third quarter the Rams had the ball on the Falcon 41 yard line.

It took just one play, a 41-yard touchdown pass to Trey Hinote, and after the PAT the Rams were up 42-0.

The visiting Falcons finally scored with 19 seconds to play in the third quarter. The Rams’ kickoff gave the Falcons the ball on their 35 yard line. Ladwig connected with Cooper Dejean on a 65-yard pass and the Falcons were on the scoreboard. They attempted a two-point conversion but were not successful and the score was 42-6.

The Rams scored one more time, this time with Kafer rushing on the first two plays and then catching a 40 yard touchdown pass. Fisher’s PAT was good and with 9:52 to play in the game the Rams were up 49-6. That was the final score of the game.

Riley completed 12 of 19 passes for 283 yards. Hughes was the leading received at 164 yards. Rushing  added another 202 yards of offense. Kafer rushed for 88 yards and  Dennhardt rushed for 86. Joel Ward rushed for17 yards and Riley had 11.

Austin Delp led in tackles with four solo tackles and two assists. Bryce Holy had three solos and two assists, Carter Morton had four solos, and Hughes had three solo tackles and one assist.

The Falcons had 220 yards of total offense, with 193 of them coming via the arm of  Kaden Ladwig, although he completed only 10 of 28 passes. Cooper Dejean was the leading receiver with 143 yards. Ladwig was also the Falcons’ leading rusher, with 26 of the team’s 27 yards on the ground.

The Class 2A District 9 title went to Kuemper. The Knights were 4-4 going into their Friday night game against winless Shenandoah. A win over Shenandoah would put them at 4-1 in the district, the same as the Rams. Although the Rams are 8-1 on the season and 4-1 in the district, because they lost to Kuemper, Kuemper has an automatic playoff berth. Whether or not the Rams are in the playoffs depends on the rating percentage index. That’s based, in part, on their opponents’ records.

The Falcons finished at 3-2 in the district and 7-2 overall.

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