Chargers halt Plymouth, 35-0
ELKHART — The Rockies ran into a brick wall Friday night.
Brody Rosenberg tossed for 124 yards and three touchdowns, and Alex Brewers ran for 109 yards and one score, helping Elkhart Memorial post a 35-0 victory over Plymouth in Northern Lakes Conference football action at Charger Field.
Leading 7-0 early in the third quarter, the Chargers (3-2, 2-2 NLC) seized command by scoring a pair of touchdowns in a span of 90 seconds.
Brewers rambled 61 yards to cap off a four-play, 90-yard drive that just took one minute and 23 seconds. Just seven seconds later, Caleb Platz pounced on a ball in the end zone that was misplayed by Plymouth's Chase Peters near the goal line to give the hosts a 21-0 cushion.
After accumulating more than 1,200 yards rushing the last three weeks, the Rockies (3-2, 2-1 NLC) managed just 123 yards on the ground and saw their three-game winning streak halted.
Coming off two games in which he gained more than 400 yards, Plymouth junior fullback Sam Stevens was limited to 41 yards on 15 attempts.
"Their goal was to stop our fullback," said Plymouth coach John Barron. "They did it by playing tough and aggressive on the defensive side. I know this is our fifth game, but our inexperience really showed tonight more than it has over the past month. They just played tougher and harder than we did."
From the outset, it appeared the Rockies were going to have their hands full.
On Plymouth's first possession of the game, Memorial stopped the visitors on a fourth down play right around midfield.
The Chargers ended up converting a fourth down play of their own as Rosenberg hooked up with Urston Smith for a 38-yard scoring play.
The 7-0 margin would hold the remainder of the opening half as Memorial stopped Plymouth three more times on fourth down plays in Charger territory.
"The way Warsaw ran the ball so well against us last week (a 28-13 loss) was definitely an issue we addressed in practice this week," said Memorial coach Kevin Downey. "We knew they (Plymouth) had some great players who ran the ball extremely well. Our kids really took that to heart and played very aggressive tonight. We stepped up and did a good job of containing them right at the line of scrimmage."
The Rockies resorted to a little trickery on the opening kickoff of the second half when Trenton Briles recovered an onside kick at the Memorial 32.
Plymouth got as far as the 10-yard line before the Chargers swarmed Stevens on a fourth down play short of the first
Less than two minutes later, the Rockies found themselves in a hole they wouldn't be able to dig out of.
"Our inability to make big plays is what hurt us," Barron said. "We really don't like to punt the ball if we don't have to. We want our kids to have confidence in their ability to make those fourth down plays. We just weren't able to execute tonight. Give Memorial credit. They were the better prepared team tonight."
Smith finished with five catches for 67 yards, and Todd Johnson added added three for 50, including two scores.
Known for their wide open passing attack, the Chargers rushed for 217 yards.
"We've been hot and cold offensively lately," Downey said. "That's why we decided to go back to basics and try to
establish our running game a little more. Our offensive line did a great job of opening the holes and giving Brody the time to throw when he needed it."
Plymouth quarterback Ike Kastner finished 7-of-17 for 75 yards and rushed 21 times for 32 more. Kyser McCrammer added added three catches for 67 yards for the Rockies, who travel to Wawasee next Friday.
"I believe we have the ability to be a pretty good football team," Barron said. "We just have to get back to work and tighten up some things."
• ELKHART MEMORIAL 35, PLYMOUTH 0
Plymouth 0 0 0 0-0
Memorial 7 0 21 7-35
EM - Urston Smith 38 pass from Brody Rosenberg (Tommy Kendall kick)
EM - Alex Brewers 61 run (Kendall kick)
EM - Caleb Platz recovery of fumble in end zone (Kendall kick)
EM - Todd Johnson 21 pass from Rosenberg (Kendall kick)
EM - Johnson 6 pass from Rosenberg (Kendall kick)
First downs 11 13
Rushing yards 123 217
Passing yards 90 124
Passing 8-18-0 9-14-0
Punting 2-32 3-40
Fumbles lost 2 0
Penalties 3-32 7-50