Rogers senior wideout Damond Powell proved to be the difference maker in the Rams' season-opening victory at Anthony Wayne Friday night.
Powell accounted for three touchdowns and 273 yards of total offense as Rogers downed the Generals 25-14.
Powell caught TD passes of 67 and 49 yards and returned a punt 82 yards for another score.
"I wanted to come out here and do all that I could for my teammates," Powell said. "I'm glad we got this big win. We knew it would be a tough game. It just so happened I made some plays to get the win."
Anthony Wayne forced two turnovers and the Rams outgained the Generals slightly, 227-210. AW allowed just two first downs in the second half.
"Our effort was outstanding but our execution looked like it was the first game," Rogers coach Rick Rios said. "I thought our defense got it figured out after the second half and we needed it."
Rogers held a precarious 19-14 lead late in the third quarter when Powell scored his third touchdown of the game. Powell made a dazzling 82-yard punt return for a TD, zigzagging through the Generals' defense across the field to give the Rams a 25-14 lead.
"The punt return was the best because I love cutting," Powell said.
The Rams stopped Anthony Wayne on two fourth down conversion attempts in the fourth quarter. With 10:34 left in the game, the Rams stopped AW on a fourth and one play at the Rogers' seven.
Ohio State-bound senior DerJuan "PeeWee" Gambrell alternated with Rogers senior Marquise Snider at quarterback. Gambrell finished 4 of 4 for 98 yards and a score. Snider completed one pass - the 49-yard TD to Powell.
Anthony Wayne rushed for 172 yards led by junior Matt Granger, who had 86 yards and a touchdown, and Hunter Lonseth (90 yards). Granger was later taken off the field by ambulance with a concussion. The Generals were held to 33 passing yards.
AW held Rogers to minus-10 total yardage in the third quarter.
"The defense played fantastic," AW coach Craig Smith said. "Rogers has great athletes and they made great plays tonight. But our kids fought and clawed their way to the end."
On Rogers' third offensive play, Gambrell connected with Powell on a 67-yard TD pass. Gambrell lofted a perfect pass down the sideline hitting Powell right in stride and he sprinted untouched to make it 7-0 with 7:15 left in the opening quarter.
"Damond is just one of those guys that every time you put the ball in his hands, he has a chance to score," Rios said. "That punt return might be the play of the season for us because that was the one we needed to make sure we took care of business."
Anthony Wayne junior Brian Butts recovered two fumbles in the first half, but Rogers still led 19-14.
Butts recovered a fumble leading to an 11-play drive to tie it at 7 on a great individual effort by Granger, who broke two tackles and scored on a 10-yard run.
Rogers later responded with a nine play scoring drive. Snider hooked up with Powell on a 49-yard TD strike. Gambrell somehow threaded the pass between two AW defenders and Powell hauled it in. Powell then broke the initial tackle and sprinted in for a 13-7 Rams' lead.
"I just wanted to make a big play for my team," Gambrell said.
Snider made two defenders miss on a 34-yard run on a third and 10 play. He made the score 19-7 with a six-yard run that Powell set up with a 30-yard punt return.
AW answered with a seven-play drive capped on a 19-yard pass from Josh Lindke to Reed Allen. With 30 seconds left, Allen made a good catch in tight quarters between two Ram defenders and the Generals pulled within 19-14 at the half.
Anthony Wayne was without their two returning rushers from last season. Matt Green and Alex Bridges sat out the game due to school-related disciplinary issues.
The Rams open their season with three straight NLL foes and will play Southview next Saturday. Anthony Wayne hosts Start next Friday.
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