Zach Rockford just became the king of homecoming.
The St. Ambrose senior running back enjoyed a career day Saturday, scoring four touchdowns as the No.11 Fighting Bees defeated the Concordia (Mich.) Cardinals 66-0 in front of a homecoming crowd at Brady Street Stadium.
"I didn't think it was going to happen," Rockford said. "Then again, there were three touchdown runs under five yards. The O-line pushed their way, I've just got to find the hole."
Rockford, who saw major action today after starting running back Cole Kelly was sidelined with a shoulder injury, made the most of his opportunity. He finished with 75 yards and three touchdowns on the ground and one touchdown catch.
"Outstanding job," said coach Mike Magistrelli. "He ran the ball well and he does a lot of different things within our offense ... but to see him get his opportunity and make the most of it was really exciting."
St. Ambrose (2-1) jumped out to the early lead when running back Ryan Byrne scored from 1 yard out just 2:09 into the game. The Bees never looked back, scoring 31 points in the quarter, punctuated by Rockford's 4-yard touchdown catch from Eric Williamson. The pair have been teammates since high school.
"Each one of us has trust in each other to make plays," Rockford said. "Just like that catch for a touchdown, Eric knew I was going to be there, and just put it up."
The Cardinals (1-3) were never able to get anything going offensively against a Bees defense that had given up an average of 37.5 points in their two games. The Cardinals finished with 212 total yards, the majority of those coming in the second half against the Bees reserves.
"It was very important (to pitch the shutout)," said cornerback Adonis Brown. "We feel like we let our fans down against Saint Francis giving up so many yards."
Brown contributed to the scoring, intercepting a Tyler Steele pass midway through the second quarter and returning it 32 yards for the score. It came just 1 minute after linebacker Sean Murphy had a 23-yard interception return for a touchdown.
"We just wanted to redeem ourselves after the last week," said Brown, who has two pick-sixes on the year. "We know we're a lot better than what we showed against Saint Francis."
Heading into next week's game against No. 25 William Penn (2-2), Magistrelli said getting his reserves valuable game experience will be helpful going forward.
"It's huge," he said. "You get a chance to get them in and get varsity experience. We're going to have to rely on those guys as the year goes on at critical points. To get that experience today and get in there and get their feet wet was great."