Third-period mauling of Lomira in playoff opener propels CG-Belgium into football rematch with St. Joseph on Friday
If there was any doubt the Cedar Grove-Belgium Rockets were going to score a decisive first-round win in the WIAA football playoffs last Friday, one quarter ended the suspense.TAILBACK ALEX GILES spun past a Lomira defender for a long gain in Cedar Grove-Belgium‚Äôs opening-round playoff win last Friday. Giles, a junior, rushed for a game-high 205 yards on 21 carries and scored two touchdowns. Photo by Sam Arendt
After muscling its way to a 16-0 lead over Lomira by halftime, host Cedar Grove-Belgium exploded for a 28-point third period that turned a mild mystery into a full-fledged mauling.
For Rockets coach Chris Zablocki, the impressive 47-0 victory in a Division 6 opener was the product of well-executed design ‚ÄĒ and a defense that forced seven turnovers, including six interceptions.
‚ÄúWe expected Lomira to come at us hard in the first half,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúThey‚Äôre a good football team that plays in a good conference (the Flyway).
‚ÄúThey had some good schemes and showed us some new wrinkles early in the game. But we made some adjustments at halftime and went out and got the job done.‚ÄĚ
Job done indeed.
Cedar Grove-Belgium, which advances to a second-round game this Friday against Kenosha St. Joseph, improved to 10-0. The Rockets were so dominant in the third quarter that Lomira (5-5) managed just six offensive plays.
Aided by three Lomira turnovers, the Rockets needed only 16 offensive snaps to score four touchdowns in rapid succession.
After receiving a kickoff to start the period, Cedar Grove-Belgium capped a 67-yard, seven-play drive with Hunter Buechler‚Äôs 2-yard touchdown plunge.
Tailback Alex Giles rushed for 65 of his game-high 205 yards on the march.
Linebacker Jon Herzog‚Äôs interception set up the next score, a 48-yard touchdown pass from quarterback T.J. Obbink to wideout Nick Peterson.
After defensive back Jake Prinsen picked off another pass, the Rockets needed five plays to find the end zone. Buechler did the honors with a 6-yard run.
Lomira‚Äôs generosity continued on its third possession, which ended with a first-play fumbled snap. Chris Peszko recovered at the Lions‚Äô 29 for Cedar Grove-Belgium, which needed one snap for another touchdown.
Giles raced down the left sideline and cut past two defenders off a block from Buechler for a score that punctuated the rout.
An extra point by Josh Ruppel, who also kicked two field goals in the game, gave the Rockets a 44-0 lead.
Herzog and Prinsen each finished the night with two interceptions, and Koopman and Keller had one apiece.
Zablocki said the third-quarter underscored a key to success for this team this season: forcing turnovers and cashing in on the miscues.
‚ÄúThe defense has been able to do that all year,‚ÄĚ he said.
‚ÄúOn offense, we were able to capitalize on Lomira‚Äôs aggressiveness. They were blitzing the gaps and trying to stop the run up the middle, but that opened things up outside for us.‚ÄĚ
Zablocki also praised his team‚Äôs offensive line, which had to regroup after losing standout guard Brandon Miles to a season-ending injury the previous week.
‚ÄúKyle Boehlen stepped in for Brandon and did very well,‚ÄĚ he said.
Although the Rockets were never seriously threatened, they had a relatively slow first half. Their lone offensive touchdown came with 8:58 left on a 71-yard pass from Obbink to Giles, who slipped behind the Lomira secondary for a wide-open catch and run.
Cedar Grove-Belgium‚Äôs other scores came on a 33-yard interception return by Koopman and a 22-yard field goal by Ruppel.
‚ÄúWe have some things that we can improve on, like communication,‚ÄĚ Zablocki said.
Even so, there were many more positives than negatives for the Rockets, who posted their fifth shutout of the season.
‚ÄúI didn‚Äôt expect us to have such a big win in our first playoff game, especially with a team of Lomira‚Äôs ability,‚ÄĚ Zablocki said.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs a tribute to how hard our players and coaching staff have worked this season.‚ÄĚ