ROCKFORD, Ill. – The Maranatha football team defeated Rockford College 14-6 for its first win of the season. The Crusaders conclude the season 1-9, 1-6 in Northern Athletics Conference play.
The victory was a long time coming. Prior to Saturday's win, the Crusaders had lost 33 consecutive games with their last victory coming against Principia on Sept. 29, 2007. Only four Crusaders on the current roster played in that game.
Even though the Crusaders were outgained 280-182, the defense came up with big plays to earn the victory. The Crusader defense intercepted four passes in the fourth quarter and returned one for a touchdown preserving the victory.
In a scoreless first half, the Regents advanced the ball inside the Crusaders' 20-yard line twice, but the Crusader defense held strong and forced incompletions on two fourth down attempts by the Regents.
A quality play by the Crusaders' special teams in the third quarter led to the Crusaders' first score. Sophomore punter/linebacker/running back Ethan Lane (Cartersville, Ga.) pinned the Regents at their own eight-yard line with a 43-yard punt.
After a defensive stop, the Crusaders regained the ball with great field position at their own 47-yard line. The offense marched the ball 53 yards on nine plays and scored on a pass from senior quarterback Phil Littrell (Valrico, Fla.) to Lane for a 20-yard touchdown pass on the last play of the third quarter.
The Crusader defense then stopped the Regents' next four drives with interceptions inside the Crusaders' 20-yard line. Senior free safety Evan Dexter (Missoula, Mont.) intercepted the Regents' quarterback at the Crusader 7-yard line in the Regents' first possession of the fourth quarter.
After a fumble by the Crusader offense, the Regents regained the ball at the Crusader 20-yard line, but two plays later, senior defensive end Josh Stein (Watertown, Wis.) stopped the Regents' drive with an interception at the 17-yard line.
On the next possession, junior defensive back Jason Garrison (Watertown, Wis.) intercepted the ball in the end zone.
The Regent defense forced a three-and-out and once again started in Maranatha territory. On a second-and-10 play at the Maranatha 17-yard line, sophomore linebacker Bobby O'Brien (Sauk Centre, Minn.) intercepted the ball and returned it 90 yards to give the Crusaders the 14-0 lead with less than a minute left.
The Regents then added a touchdown as time expired to cap off the scoring.
Freshman strong safety Josiah Brendemuehl (Mishicot, Wis.) continued his solid play on defense with 10 total tackles and two pass break-ups. Lane finished with 59 yards rushing, 20 yards receiving, and nine total tackles. Both Brendemuehl and Lane ended the season with 100 tackles.