By Jack Gillen
A heartbreaking defeat to the CSM Bulldogs ended the Rams football team’s perfect season, losing 44-17 in a one-sided affair.
Head coach Jimmy Collins told his team after the game, “We got beat, fellas, we didn’t lose to the refs, we got beat … You’re going to get knocked down, You’re going to get knocked down, and not just in football, but the rest of your grown lives. You’re going to get hit in the face. But how are you going to respond?”
The Rams got off to a hot start, blocking a punt to set up a field goal to take the lead early.
Soon after, QB Dorian Hale (10) took a keeper to the end zone from the Bulldog’s 40-yard line, making multiple defenders fall to the ground trying to tackle him. With 7:05 in the first remaining, the Rams were already up 10-0.
The Rams looked poised to put on another show when Zone Wierenga (15) got a strip sack that CSM recovered the following drive. Wierenga doesn’t think this loss will derail the season. “Our team bond is amazing. I mean, earlier in the year, we came together and said we
wanted to be a family … after this little moment of adversity, I think we’re going to come back together and to our roots … next time, we’ll be able to face it and persevere through it.
However, the Bulldogs responded the next play with a 72-yard touchdown from their QB Anthony Grigsby (7). They did not take their foot off the gas and intercepted Hale with 35 seconds left in the 1st, and the next play connected on another bomb from 61 yards out.
The 2nd quarter was uneventful for both offenses, scoring zero points each, but the Ram’s defense held strong and kept them in the game.
The defense held the Bulldogs on 4th and goal with 4:16 remaining, and thanks to Jabari Boone’s (12) interception with 46 seconds remaining in the half, the Rams could go into the break only down 10-14.
Coming into the second half was a different story. The Rams looked ready to strike back with a strip sack and fumble recovery from Derek Reagans III (99), but at 9:22 in the 3rd, Hale went down with an injury and only came back for one drive before leaving for the rest of the game.
With 5:21 in the 3rd, Grigsby ran one in to put the Bulldogs up 21-10. Following a blocked punt only a minute later, the Bulldogs regained possession and scored again with 3:42 remaining, bringing the score to 28-10. “The run game was working, but once they got up, we had to abandon it,” starting tackle Uriel Rodriguez (86) said.
Late into the 3rd quarter, Jack Miller (16) took command of the offense, and at the start of the 4th quarter, Miller connected with Hasan Mahasin for a 4-yard touchdown with 14:22 remaining on the clock. “I trust Jack and Teddy as much as I trust Dorian. If any of them went to another Juco, they would all start. They’re all just equally as good,” Rodriguez added.
On the Bulldog’s next drive, the Ram’s defense again rose to the occasion, and Tyler Lepolo (4) brought life back to the Rams sideline with an interception off a tipped pass at 12:56 in the 4th. “We were down two scores, and we were getting ready for that comeback … We expected everything going into the game. We knew about all their little over routes, post routes, but we just have to execute better, and that’s all it was,” Lepolo said.
After a couple more drives, Miller did not come back into the game, as Coach Collins put in Teddy Booras (8) to finish the game. The Bulldogs put up 16 unanswered points to ice the game out. “Dorian’s going off to the doctor right now. I hope he’s ok and ready to go into the weeks after our bye. Me and Jack just try to stay prepared all week, going through mental reps … we’ve got to stay together as a family and just put in the work,” Booras said.
The Rams will have a bye week before going into the playoffs. They will try to overcome this loss and the adversity they will face from the tough opponents that await them in the postseason with the family-like bond the Rams have.