- School District of Beloit
James Ford Runs Wild as Beloit Memorial Trips Union Grove 24-21
Brad Dement pondered for a moment to consider a fair historical comparison to his current backfield duo of James Ford and Toby Robinson.
It’s not surprising that the Beloit Memorial head coach had to go back to the program's “glory days” of the 1990s.
“As far as 1-2 punches go, we had Jon (Dupuis) and Josh Pearson and after that came Darius Jones and Tamaris Relerford. But we think these two guys we have now, behind our line, are special.”
Just as important, Ford dashed through a hole for 11 yards on a crucial fourth-down play that gave the Purple Knights (2-2, 1-1) a first down and allowed them to run out the clock.
“We had them outmanned on the tight end side on that play and really, James Ford doesn’t need a lot of space,"Dement said. "He’s quick, he’s low to the ground and he keeps his feet churning.”
“James is amazing and Toby is also great,” senior guard Ethan Lulinski said. “Plus everyone played well on the offensive line.”
Dement counted on a big bounce back from his offensive line after being manhandled in the second half of a 35-6 loss to Elkhorn the week before.
“We locked in during practice and went back to fundamentals,” Lulinski said. “We got back to playing Knight football.”
Ford was certainly appreciative.
“I couldn’t do it without my offensive line and I love them,” he said. “We put last week’s game into the past and we worked hard for this all week. Going in, I thought the belly play would work and we took care of business pounding the rock every play.”
The Knights had to overcome some adversity along the way. Despite rushing for 226 yards in the first half, Beloit trailed 14-12 as an interception and fumble ended possessions, the latter in the red zone.
Beloit took advantage of a short field and grabbed a 6-0 lead on Ford’s 7-yard run in the first quarter, but a bad snap cost them a conversion try. The Broncos erased that lead after picking off a Adyn Potter pass at the Beloit 37. Junior quarterback Finnian Morrison connected with Jackson Light with a 26-yard TD pass and Tyler Van De Wirter booted the conversion for a 7-6 lead.
Beloit was pinned at its 12 after the kickoff, but Ford needed only four carries to cover that, on runs of 4, 10, 23 and finally 51 yards. A conversion run failed, but the Knights led 12-7.
The back and forth game went back to the Broncos with an eight-play, 71-yard TD drive capped by Morrison’s 4-yard TD run. Van De Wirter made it 14-12.
The Knights drive to the Broncos 8 late in the half only to have Ford lose a fumble on the bottom of a pile.
After the Broncos squandered an opportunity with a fumble lost at the Beloit 10. Ford immediately bolted 75 yards to the Union Grove 5 and Robinson scored one play later on a 1-yard dive. This time a pass fell incomplete on the conversion, but the Knights were ahead to stay at 18-14 with 3:53 remaining in the third quarter.
The Knights defense came up with another huge play despite having one of its best players, linebacker Grant Kiger, on the sidelines with an ice bag on a sore neck. With the Broncos near midfield, Tyler Wohlust stripped the ball from Morrison and sophomore Michael Nora recovered it.
The Knights only converted three passes in the game, but Potter and another sophomore, Brian Cunnigan-Little connected on a 44-yard bomb that set up a 3-yard TD run by Robinson for a 24-14 lead with 11:54 left.
Union Grove cut it to 24-21 with 7:08 remaining on a 19-yard TD pass from Morrison to Light, but the Knights never let them touch the ball again. They kept it on the ground for 13 straight plays and converted four first downs, including Ford’s fourth-down conversion. The 13th run was Potter taking a knee in the victory formation to run out the clock.
“We talked all week about putting each other first and sacrificing for each other,” Dement said. “When adversity hit, they rallied for each other. I told them in the huddle after the game, that’s how you come together as a team. Picking each other up. They did that tonight and you saw the result. This is the kind of football team I thought we had.”