Independence earned its 34-20 win over visiting Rhodes on Friday.
The Blue Devils scored three unanswered touchdowns in the second and third quarters to pull away from the Rams.
“I was nervous coming in,” said Independence coach Rick Adams. “They looked very physical on film and their record was nowhere near an indicator of how they played. They lost to Maple Heights and Warren Harding, two very good teams. They came in and were really physical and we gave up a lot of size, especially up front. I’m happy with how our kids battled.”
The Rams struck first when they scored on a 21-yard pass in the second quarter but Independence came right back with a 40-yard touchdown pass from Michael Tommer to Kyle Zygmunt. Brian Vollman added the extra point to give the Blue Devils a 7-6 lead.
“Tommer was a big spark for us,” Adams said. “We were down 6-0 and kind of sputtering. He hit Kyle Zygmunt on a screen. That was freshman to freshman. Kyle took it 40 yards for a touchdown. Michael for being a freshman did a really good job.”
Tommer finished 3-of-5 for 58 yards.
Rhodes returned the ensuing kickoff 80 yards for a touchdown but again failed to convert a two-point conversion try.
The Blue Devils didn’t trail for long as Robert Artrip threw a 55-yard touchdown pass to Braden Sears and Vollman converted his second point after try to make it 14-12 at halftime.
Artrip added a three-yard touchdown run and two-point conversion pass to Sears to make it 22-12 in the third quarter and then Artrip threw a 16-yard touchdown pass to Zygmunt to make it 28-12 heading into the fourth.
Rhodes used a 20-yard touchdown pass and two-point conversion to pull to within 28-20 but Artrip added a one-yard touchdown run to close out the scoring and the Independence win.
Artrip finished with 154 rushing yards on 34 carries with two touchdowns and he also completed 6-of-9 passes for 87 yards and two more scores.
“Robert was a workhorse again,” Adams said. “The defense did a great job too. One of their touchdowns was a kick return so the defense really put a lot of pressure on them all night. We had three turnovers, which gave them good field position a few times and the kids responded and played hard all night.”
Sophomore linebacker Adam Miklovic led the charge on defense.
“He did a great job,” Adams said. “He’s led us now for three weeks. He had a couple of tackles for loss and an interception that led to a scoring opportunity for us. He was putting pressure on their quarterback all night.”
Independence improved to 2-1 on the year. The Blue Devils open league play at Wickliffe on Friday.