ROCKFORD -- Once the Rockets stopped shooting themselves in the foot, Burlington Central's offense got rolling. Their defense was a constant throughout.
Led by tailback Reilly Marino, the Rockets exploded for 4 third-quarter touchdowns and rolled past Rockford Christian, 36-3, in the Big Northern East opener for both teams Friday night.
Marino ran for 150 yards and 2 touchdowns, and quarterback Tyler Majewski managed the game while filling in for injured starter Ryan Ritchie.
The defense made sure the offense didn't have to work too hard. The Rockets' "D" forced 5 turnovers and held the Royal Lions to negative 15 rushing yards until a final futile drive. Marino had 2 of the Rockets' 4 fumble recoveries, and Ibrahim Sanson picked off Lions' quarterback Coleman Nelson to snuff out one of Rockford Christian's few offensive threats.
"That was a point of emphasis this week," said Rockets' coach Rich Crabel. "We haven't had enough turnovers in our first two games, so we worked on that. We wanted opportunities for maybe some interceptions that I wish we would have gotten to, because we worked pretty hard at that, too."
Trevor Davison and Dishon Rambo added rushing touchdowns, Justin Schreiber caught a scoring pass from Majewski, and Casey Matthews added a 30-yard field goal for the Rockets (2-1 overall).
The Rockets dominated the first half, but hurt themselves with penalties. They finished the game with 13 for 140 yards. By contrast, Rockford Christian had only 131 yards of offense.
Central scored on its opening drive, going 79 yards in 13 plays. Marino went 6 yards around right end for the score. The Rockets moved the ball on their second drive but, after a pair of penalties stopped their momentum, settled for Matthews' field goal.
The Royal Lions answered with Brigham Weyrauch's field goal late in the first half. After a penalty called back a long touchdown by Majewski, that held up as the halftime score.
The Rockets cut back on the penalties after the break and their offense took off. Marino recovered a fumble on Rockford Christian's first possession, and scored his second touchdown 4 plays later. A 3-and-out and 3 more turnovers by the defense led to 3 more scores before the end of the quarter.
When quarterback Nelson was injured on a defensive play in the third quarter, any chance for a Royal Lions comeback evaporated.
Davison added 85 rushing yards as the Rockets rolled up 271 yards on the ground to just 29 for Rockford Christian.