ROCKFORD — Playing short-handed, Traverse City West had perennial powerhouse Rockford worried.
The Rams (9-1) led only 3-0 late in the third quarter en route to a 19-0 Division 1 playoff win.
"I was really proud of our kids," West head coach Tim Wooer said. "Number one, it was probably the best defensive team I've ever coached against. Everybody struggled (against them). Offensively, we struggled getting into rhythm and getting kids into space.
"Rockford struggled a little bit offensively this year, but it's still Rockford. I thought we just played phenomenal defense. We fumbled on our own 20 once and held them without a field goal. We had two interceptions. One was at midfield and one was on our own 25, so our defense was put in bad situations."
West (5-50 limited Rockford to 196 yards of total offense, although the Titans were able to manage just 132 of their own.
West split time at quarterback between starter Jeff Turnquist and JV signal-caller Zac Zoutendam.
"He had a good week of practice," Wooer said of Zoutendam. "We had a really tough time getting into any type of rhythm. ... Zac's a sophomore and Jeff is a junior. They'll have a great competition over the next 10 to 12 months. It's nothing Jeff did. We just wanted to see if we could get something going."
The pair combined to complete nine of 31 passes for all 132 of West's net yards. Geordon Carter hauled in 90 yards of those passes, while Dominic Teeples gained 22 yards and Caleb Breithaupt had 20.
After Carter had several catches against Rockford's man-to-man defense, the Rams switched to a zone with extra coverage toward Carter.
West was playing without four starters on offense and eight players total after suspensions handed out this week for violating team rules.
"It's been a trying 48 hours," Wooer said. "Lots of emotions as a head coach. You go through disappointment, frustration and being upset. But the bottom line ... is there's a lot of great things our kids do. The focus shouldn't be on kids that make mistakes. It should be on kids that make the right decisions and do the right things and work hard. I just can't begin to say how proud I am of the kids we had on our bus tonight."
Tyler Bradfield's 23-yard touchdown run on his only carry of the game put Rockford up 10-0 late in the third quarter, and Bradfield recovered a fumble on West first ensuing play that led to a Quinn Nordin field goal to put the Rams up 13-0.
West's Carter and the Rams' Josh Olson each had interceptions in the fourth quarter.
Darian Vaughn added a 7-yard TD run to take a 19-0 lead as a two-point conversion pass attempt was knocked away with six minutes to go.
Nordin hit a 39-yard field goal with 7:34 remaining in the first quarter.
"We were fortunate to be down only 3-0," Wooer said. "We had our backs to the end zone for quite awhile there."
West had 60 yards of total offense and Rockford 68 in the first half as the defenses dominated. The Titans had four first downs to the Rams' two. West ended up with an 8-5 advantage in first downs.
Carter led the defense with 13 tackles, while James Peck and Jordan Stevenson both made six stops and Calvin Bouttavong, Breithaupt and Tyler Town each had five. Josh Rakan and Grant Ellison led West with 19 rush yards each and Noah Malaski had 12.