Behind 100-yard games from Deming, McKee, Rochester beats Wabash
Zebras, Vikings both undefeated heading into Bell game for first time since 2007
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
WABASH — Alex Deming ran for 144 yards, and Gavin McKee ran for a career-high 100 yards and two touchdowns on seven carries to lead the Rochester football team to a 52-13 win over host Wabash at Alumni Field Friday.
The Zebras scored touchdowns on their first seven possessions of the game, and they added five two-point conversions. They had 444 yards of total offense.
Payton Luhnow added seven carries for 81 yards and a touchdown, Colton Ferverda added six carries for 63 yards and two scores, and Brant Beck had three carries for 51 yards and a score as the Zebra wingbacks gashed the Apache defense with a series of sweeps and counters.
Quarterback Aaron Swango also had a 3-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.
Rochester improved to 4-0 overall and 3-0 in the Three Rivers Conference.
Andrew Dillon had a touchdown run, and Izaak Wright threw a touchdown pass to Trevor Daughtry for Wabash, who fell to 1-3, 1-2.
Rochester is 15-0 against the Apaches since Wabash joined the TRC in 2006. Rochester also scored 50 or more points in back-to-back games for the first time since 2008.
In another TRC game Friday, Tippecanoe Valley improved to 4-0, 3-0 TRC with a 43-13 win over Manchester. Valley led 43-0 in the third quarter before the Squires scored twice in the fourth quarter with a running clock.
Rochester travels to Valley for the Bell game next Friday, and both teams will be undefeated going into their rivalry tilt for the first time since 2007.
In addition, Maconaquah routed Whitko 53-8 Friday, and the Braves are also 3-0 in the TRC.
Wabash scored on their first two drives of the game. When Wright found Daughtry on a 6-yard scoring pass on a fourth-and-1 play, Wabash was within 16-13 with 5:55 left in the first half.
Rochester, however, finished the game with 36 unanswered points.
They showed off both a four-man and three-man front on defense. Rochester coach Ron Shaffer said they played a three-man front about 70 percent of the time. He said the three-man front allowed for more coverage on Wabash’s slippery trio of wide receivers – Daughtry, Antonio Grant and Justin Booth. He also said they were able to pressure Wright even with only a three-man rush.
“Not really many adjustments other than just trying to get back to the scheme we had talked about and executing the scheme we had worked on all week,” Shaffer said when asked about defensive adjustments in the second half. “We’re getting too deep in our drops, and then we had some new guys out there and doing a little bit of different stuff. Good adjustments by (assistant) coach (Eric) Davis and his defensive guys, and the kids executed it.”
Ferverda’s 18-yard touchdown run answered Daughtry’s touchdown catch and made it 22-13.
Hunter Campbell’s first career interception stopped the next Wabash drive on the Zebra 28, and Rochester followed with a four-play, 72-yard scoring drive.
“Really it was just about fixing what I messed up on the first time,” Campbell explained. “I let someone go deep, and I just fixed it, and the coaches helped me, and I made the play.”
With Wabash respecting Deming’s ability on the fullback belly play, McKee, a senior wingback, had two carries for 44 yards on the sweep, including a 21-yard touchdown run.
“They ran a lot of power, and it was belly sweep,” McKee said. “So they would fake it to Alex and give me the ball. … I thought it was really good. I thought the line did really well. The holes were always there. I give all the credit to the line.”
The two-point conversion failed, but Rochester led 28-13.
“We just took what the defense was giving us, and the edge of their defense was a little bit lacking,” Shaffer said. “And the kids really executed it well. And Alex Deming, you’ve got to talk about his blocking – a really nice job blocking on the perimeter and kicking guys out on our power play.”
After Rochester forced a three-and-out to start the second half, they drove 33 yards in three plays and scored again. Deming had a 30-yard run, and Aaron Swango scored on an option keeper. After Deming tacked on the two-point conversion, Rochester led 36-13.
After Wabash turned the ball over on downs, Rochester answered with an eight-play, 54-yard scoring drive.
A Luhnow 11-yard scoring run and a Deming two-point conversion run capped an eight-play, 54-yard scoring drive and made it 44-13.
After Rochester foiled a 13-play Wabash drive by stopping Antonio Grant a yard short on a fourth-and-9 from the Wabash 49, the Zebras went on another five-play, 57-yard drive.
Ferverda scored on a 9-yard run and tacked on a two-point conversion run to begin the running clock.
“Belly sweep is one of our main plays,” Ferverda said. “I didn’t get touched, and we just ran that a lot and got a lot of touchdowns.”
On the game’s opening possession, Beck followed a Deming lead block for a 30-yard touchdown, and Deming added a two-point conversion run to make it 8-0.
Wright completed six of seven passes on Wabash’s first drive, and he also had a 12-yard run to convert a third-and-7 down to the Rochester 1. Dillon scored on the next play, and Solomon France’s extra point cut the Rochester lead to 8-7.
Rochester drove 77 yards in 11 plays on the ensuing possession, which included an 18-yard Deming run on third-and-8 on the first play of the second quarter. McKee’s 5-yard touchdown run two plays later and a Luhnow two-point conversion run made it 16-7.
But if throwing an inaccurate pass was wrong, Wabash was not going to be Wright: He completed six straight passes on the next possession, including a 33-yard catch by Grant and a 6-yarder by Daughtry on a play-action pass on fourth-and-1 from the Zebra 6.
France missed the extra point to keep the deficit at 16-13. Wabash was done scoring for the night.
“Our safeties went back a lot more and covered the deep passes to number 11 (Grant) and number two (Daughtry),” Ferverda said. “On runs outside, I’m the one that’s supposed to make the tackle. When I don’t, I get yelled at.”
Ferverda said the players will celebrate this win for eight hours. Then preparation for the Valley game starts.
“Tomorrow morning, when we walk in, get locked in and get to work,” Ferverda said.
Rochester 52, Wabash 13
Rochester 8 20 16 8 – 52
Wabash 7 6 0 0 – 13
RHS – Brant Beck 30 run (Alex Deming run)
WAB – Andrew Dillon 1 run (Solomon France kick)
RHS – Gavin McKee 5 run (Payton Luhnow run)
WAB – Trevor Daughtry 6 pass from Izaak Wright (kick failed)
RHS – Colton Ferverda 18 run (run failed)
RHS – McKee 21 run (run failed)
RHS – Aaron Swango 3 run (Deming run)
RHS – Luhnow 11 run (Deming run)
RHS – Ferverda 9 run (Ferverda run)