Friday’s game against Rockford East was never in doubt. The Bucs started by marching down the field in four minutes to score their first touchdown. It would be the first of many. By halftime, the only contest in question was which fan could eat the most cheeseburgers while Jimmy Buffett played on the PA.
“We cut down on mental mistakes after the Freeport game,” said Bucs Coach Mike Hearn. The Bucs took an early 7 – 0 lead, marching down the field in nine plays culminating with a Jimmy Billon seven yard reception. Still the Bucs were their own worst enemy in the first quarter. Kelly Njos blocked a punt and gave the Bucs excellent field position on their second possession of the game. However, two penalties in as many plays stopped them cold and quarterback Jason Fiske threw his only interception for the night. The E-rabs only threatened once, getting within ten yards from the end zone before a fumble recovered by Casey Gustafson got it back for the Bucs. Penalty woes struck again; an illegal block in the back canceled a 35 yard touchdown run. Despite the penalties, Belvidere was still able to keep the ball and move down the field and score. Matt Barr scrambled in with a six yard run with 33 seconds left in the quarter.
Penalties continued to plague Belvidere in the second quarter. Rockford East was ready to punt on a fourth down, but Belvidere was charged with too many men on the field. The five yard penalty was enough to give the E-rabs the second of only two first downs in the second quarter. The E-rab offense stayed at ground level. Quarterback Diego Gomez was only able to complete a single short lateral at the line of scrimmage. On the defensive side, the E-rabs managed to sack Jason Fiske for a loss of eight yards and force Belvidere’s only punt for the night. However, Belvidere finished the quarter with a 51 yard drive in the last two minutes, completed with a 14 yard touchdown run by Jason Fiske. Halftime score was 21 – 0, Bucs.
Flags continued to fly in the third quarter, but the tide had turned and most penalties were against the E-rabs. They ran the kick off back for a touchdown but a holding call negated it. A false start call and one for illegal procedure derailed the E-rabs’ first possession. And when the Bucs were hit with a 5 yard penalty for illegal procedure, the E-rabs were stymied with a 15 yard personal foul call on the same play. It only took Belvidere five plays to race 53 yards. Tyler Pearse spun in on his back into the end zone and the Bucs were up 28 – 0. Ben Salley intercepted a rare Gomez pass attempt in the next series and Belvidere completed another 60 yard drive to score another touchdown.
Rockford East tried to convert on a fourth down and failed. Belvidere took over on downs and started the fourth quarter with a drive down to the end zone. Cliff Paul scored officially, but the entire front line helped muscle him in from the four yard line. Chris Barta’s kick was no good, his only miss of the night. With the score 41 – 0, both sides began making substitutions. Ben Salley took over for Jason Fiske and directed the final scoring drive, 61 yards, with Tony Schanna running into the corner of the end zone. Chris Barta went six for seven for extra points and put the final score at 48 – 0.
The offense definitely improved its running game from last week, rushing 325 yards on the ground. Jason Fiske threw an additional 125 yards. After two games, the Bucs are leading the NIC-9 with 75 points scored. “We were pleased with the performance from everyone on the team,” says Coach Hearn. And it was everyone; all the players that were dressed got to play. The second and third string defense kept the E-rabs out of the end zone and the second and third string offense were able to move the ball down the field.
Next, Belvidere travels to Rockford Boylan to play the (1 – 1) Titans. Last year, Boylan’s 10 – 2 record was second only to the league leading Freeport Pretzels and included a 33 – 7 win over the Bucs. “Their quarterback, Rob Lotzer, is very quick,” says Coach Hearn, “and they have a very good fullback. They like to change the line up and keep you off balance.” Six different players scored touchdowns in the Titans’ 56 – 0 win over Auburn. The Bucs got back to work on Labor Day, practicing under the lights during a late practice. They take on the Titans at 7:15 pm, Friday night.