Boys Varsity Football
Game Summaries & Headlines.
By Scott DeCamp | firstname.lastname@example.org | Posted October 19, 2018 at 10:54 PM | Updated October 20, 2018 at 08:27 AM
East Kentwood's Jayden Jones (21) and Anthony Brown (25) look at Rockford's Jack Richardson (2) after a play Friday, Oct. 19, 2018 at Falcon Stadium in Kentwood, Mich. (Alyssa Keown | MLive.com)
KENTWOOD, MI -- East Kentwood's football team has been unstoppable since its season-opening setback.
Neither Rockford nor the elements could deny the Falcons on Friday night with the OK Red Conference outright championship on the line.
East Kentwood relied on a strong running game, led by Kionte Blakely's 195-yard effort, and mixed in some passing to grab the OK Red title all to itself in a 28-17 victory on a chilly, gusty, drizzly night at Falcon Stadium.
It was the Falcons' first outright Red title since 2002, and the program's 19th overall.
East Kentwood (8-1, 6-0 OK Red) has won eight straight games since a 48-38 loss to a strong Mona Shores team in Week 1.
The Falcons are in good position for home-field advantage for the postseason, possibly for the first three rounds of the Division 1 playoffs should they continue to win. They'll know their draw this Sunday, as the playoff pairings will be unveiled during the Selection Sunday Show on Fox Sports Detroit, starting at 7 p.m.
Rockford (5-4, 4-2), which was playing for a conference-title share Friday, will also officially learn its playoff fate Sunday. Should the Rams get in, it would mark their 24th straight season that they've been in the posteason.
Continue scrolling to read more about Friday's game.
Check back later for more reaction and more details.
PHOTO GALLERY: Check out Alyssa Keown's images from Friday night's game
STATEWIDE SCORES: Get Week 9 scores from across the state
East Kentwood senior running back Kionte Blakely added another chapter to his stellar season Friday, rushing for a game-high 195 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries -- essentially in one half of play.
The 5-foot-6, 160-pound Blakely was down on the field late in the first quarter, but he returned and played in the second quarter. His stat line was complete by halftime, as he did not have any carries in the second half.
Falcons coach Tony Kimbrough said that Blakely suffered a possible hip-flexor injury. Blakely wanted to go back in the game, but the EK coaches said no, as they were confident in their other options in the backfield.
With Friday's performance, Blakely is now up to 1,354 rushing yards and 26 TDs on 121 carries, good for 11.2 per attempt.
Watch the video above to hear Blakely's thoughts on how far the Falcons have come, as well as his thoughts on running behind the big offensive line.
East Kentwood Falcons senior Mazi Smith (58) tackles Rockford senior Jack Richardson (2) at East Kentwood on Friday, Oct. 19, 2018. East Kentwood defeated Rockford 28-17 and secured the outright OK Red Conference title. (Alyssa Keown | MLive.com)
1. Kionte Blakely, East Kentwood: The 5-foot-6, 160-pound jitterbug, pinball -- whatever you want to call him -- did his thing again Friday before an injury sidelined him. He rushed for a game-high 195 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries in essentially one half. Falcons coach Tony Kimbrough said that Blakely suffered a possible hip-flexor injury, although Blakely wanted to go back in the game after suffering it.
2. Joshua Ledesma, East Kentwood: The 5-foot-11, 225-pound junior fullback/linebacker was all over the place on defense, posting a co-game-high 14 tackles. When Blakely left the game with his injury, Ledesma helped carry the load, rushing four times for 17 yards and two TDs in the second half. His second TD was a display of power and will, as he kept fighting until he got into the end zone.
3. Mazi Smith, East Kentwood: The 6-foot-3, 320-pound defensive lineman was a force in the middle for the Falcons. The University of Michigan commit racked up a co-game-high 14 tackles and forced a fumble.
Rockford coach Ralph Munger declined to be recorded on video, but he shared his thoughts on his team's inability to overcome miscues in the way that a team like East Kentwood can.
"We get a 15-yard penalty, I'm not happy about it. Well, you know what? Those kids (East Kentwood) can make it up and just keep going," he said. "We're not at that point, we're not at that level. We need to keep busting our hump and avoid things that will beat you. And, tonight, we didn't do a good job of that."
ROCKFORD PLAYOFF STREAK ON THE LINE
Not only was Rockford playing for a share of the OK Red Conference title Friday, but the Rams were trying to get in the playoffs for a record 24th-straight year.
The last time the Rams missed the playoffs was 1994, when they finished 3-6.
For a 17-year stretch spanning 1996 to 2012, Rockford posted double-digit wins in 11 seasons.
The Rams advanced to at least the district finals in each of the previous 15 years.
They'll learn their postseason fate Sunday, when the 256-team playoff field is unveiled on the Selection Sunday Show at 7 p.m. on Fox Sports Detroit.
TIGHT SERIES BETWEEN THE FALCONS AND RAMS
A tight all-time series between East Kentwood and Rockford got even tighter with the Falcons' win Friday.
The Rams still hold an edge, but just barely at 26-25.
FIRST QUARTER: East Kentwood 7, Rockford 7
East Kentwood's Stephan Bracey tries to fend off Rockford's Chris Corey on Friday, Oct. 19, 2018 at Falcon Stadium in Kentwood, Mich. (Alyssa Keown | MLive.com)
East Kentwood wasted no time at all, marching 80 yards into the teeth of the wind on a four-play drive, capped by Kionte Blakely's 8-yard touchdown run to strike 1:18 into the game. Blakely carried the ball three times for 51 yards on the drive. A 41-yard pass from Kyle Dent to Stephan Bracey set up the Falcons first-and-goal.
Rockford answered on its first possession of the game, going 79 yards in eight plays. Eli Haddad got behind the East Kentwood secondary and hauled in a 47-yard TD pass from Chris Corey to knot it at 7 just past the midway point of the quarter.
Blakely finished the quarter with 82 yards on seven carries.
SECOND QUARTER: East Kentwood 14, Rockford 7
East Kentwood's Joshua Ledesma (23) and Mazi Smith, bottom right, take down Rockford's Jack Richardson Friday, Oct. 19, 2018 at Falcon Stadium in Kentwood, Mich. (Alyssa Keown | MLive.com)
After the teams traded possessions, the Falcons went to Blakely twice and that's all that was necessary to go back in front. He first ripped off a 29-yard gain to the Rockford 45, then on the very next play Blakely went 45 yards for a TD, making a great cutback, splitting a couple of defenders and racing to the end zone.
Blakely, who left the game late in the first quarter with what appeared to be cramps, had a big first half with 195 yards and two TDs on 15 carries.
Rockford's Connor White (20) dives over the top of East Kentwood's Colton Emeott (13) Friday, Oct. 19, 2018 at Falcon Stadium in Kentwood, Mich. (Alyssa Keown | MLive.com)
THIRD QUARTER: East Kentwood 14, Rockford 10
The Rams dominated possession and cut into their deficit with a time-consuming drive opening the third quarter. They moved the ball 53 yards in 12 plays, capped by Teagen Lenderink's 43-yard field goal with the wind at his back. The drive ate up more than seven minutes.
That pulled Rockford within 14-10 with 4:43 left in the quarter, and it was the only scoring of the quarter.
FOURTH QUARTER: East Kentwood 28, Rockford 17
East Kentwood's Bryce Mostella (70) and Jetly Tran (42) celebrate near the end of the Falcons' 28-17 win over Rockford on Friday, Oct. 19, 2018 in Kentwood, Mich. (Alyssa Keown | MLive.com)
The Falcons created a little breathing room early in the fourth, as Bryce Mostella recovered a Rockford fumble on the Rams' 32 on the second play of the quarter. Four plays later, fullback Joshua Ledesma scored on a 4-yard run to put East Kentwood up 21-10 with 9 ½ minutes left in the game.
East Kentwood's defense held again on Rockford's ensuing possession, forcing a turnover on downs at the Rams' 35 with about 5 minutes left. Two plays later, Ledesma got in the end zone again, this time on a hard-charging 10-yard run with 3:31 remaining for a 28-10 lead.
After a nice kickoff return by Luke McLean to midfield, the Rams scored on a 24-yard pass from Corey to Nate Bareno to cut their deficit to 28-17, but that came with 0.6 seconds left.
East Kentwood recovered the squib kick, and the celebration commenced.
EK: Kionte Blakely 8 run (Christian Tanner kick), 10:42.
R: Eli Haddad 47 pass from Chris Corey (Teagen Lenderink kick), 5:48.
EK: Blakely 45 run (Tanner kick), 6:03.
R: Lenderink 43 field goal, 4:43.
EK: Joshua Ledesma 4 run (Tanner kick), 9:26.
EK: Ledesma 10 run (Tanner kick), 3:31.
R: Nate Bareno 32 pass from Corey (Lenderink kick), 0.6.
East Kentwood's Kyle Dent (6) and Kionte Blakely (20) celebrate with students after their team's 28-17 win over Rockford on Friday, Oct. 19, 2018 in Kentwood, Mich. (Alyssa Keown | MLive.com)
STATS AND STAT LEADERS
Team rushing: East Kentwood 30-310; Rockford 49-202
Team passing: East Kentwood 8-for-13, 170 yards, 0 TD, 1 INT; Rockford 4-for-7, 82 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT
Total offense: East Kentwood 480; Rockford 284
First downs: East Kentwood 18; Rockford 12
Penalties: East Kentwood 7-51; Rockford 2-10
Individual rushing: Kionte Blakely (East Kentwood) 15-195, 2 TDs; Jaiden Friesen (Rockford) 19-114
Individual passing: Kyle Dent (East Kentwood) 8-for-13, 170 yards, 0 TD, 1 INT; Chris Corey (Rockford) 4-for-7, 82 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT
Individual receiving: Stephan Bracey (East Kentwood) 5-96; Eli Haddad (Rockford) 1-47
Defense: Mazi Smith (East Kentwood) 14 tackles; Joshua Ledesma (East Kentwood) 14 tackles; Austin Klein (Rockford) 11 tackles.