A strong run game and a stalwart defense led to a strong win in the season opener for Watertown-Mayer, as the Royals defeated the Rockford Rockets 21-6.
“We played really well,” said coach Nick Urban. “The kids made big plays in some big spots.”
The Rockets had bested the Royals in each of the last two meetings, but Watertown-Mayer was the superior team this time around.
The Royals ground game got going early, leading to a pair of first quarter scores that put Watertown-Mayer in the driver seat. Nick Nolan punched in the first score from two yards out, and the potent ground game led to a 59-yard score on a play action pass.
With the Rockets looking to stop the potent ground game led by Nolan and Kendall Nowlan, the Royals took advantage with a little misdirection, faking the run as Jackson Lague found Mason Pothen. Braxton Williams threw a crucial block, springing Pothen free for the 59-yard touchdown. Pothen and Lague were in sync all game, with six connections between the two for 114 yards and the touchdown.
On the ground, Nowlan and Nolan combined for 161 of Watertown-Mayer’s 187 yards rushing.
On the defensive end, the Royals refused to let up an inch, blanketing the receivers in the secondary and stopping the run at the line of scrimmage. The Rockets’ offense managed only 171 yards of offense, which was less than what the Royals accomplished on the ground alone.
Nolan and Zach Neaton led the defensive unit, with Nolan leading the team in tackles (14) by tallying seven solo and seven assists. Neaton had nine tackles, which included three sacks, sending Rockford back 23 yards.
In addition to the play on offense and defense, the special teams played well and the Royals had only one penalty in the win.
“I was really happy with the kids and how they performed,” Urban said.