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Defense ‘central’ to Knights’ sectional final win over Rochester

Deming runs for 114 yards, but Zebras fail to score after first drive


Sports Editor, RTC

Baylor Smith ran for 61 yards and two touchdowns, and the Lafayette Central Catholic football team’s defense held host Rochester scoreless after their opening drive as they beat the Zebras 24-8 in the Class 2A, Sectional 34 final at Barnhart Field Friday.

Alex Deming ran for 114 yards, and Brant Beck had an 18-yard touchdown run in the first quarter for No. 7 Rochester, who had their six-game winning streak snapped and finished 10-2.

One week after compiling 499 yards of offense in a 50-26 win over Benton Central, the Zebras were held to 226 yards. Only Tippecanoe Valley held them to fewer yards – 151 in a 26-17 Zebra loss on Sept. 16 – in a game this season.

“It’s a really good team,” Rochester coach Ron Shaffer said of the Knights. “You can’t make many mistakes, and we made a few too many mistakes in execution.”

The 10 wins were the most for Rochester since 2000. That remains the most recent year Rochester won a sectional title.

“It felt good to make this progress,” Shaffer said. “And it was a goal of ours to have playoff success. We just didn’t want it to end tonight.”

Ben Mazur also threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to Robert Koch on a fourth-down play for the Knights. Thomas Henry kicked three extra points and a field goal.

No. 9 Lafayette Central Catholic won their fourth consecutive sectional title and their 11th sectional in the last 14 years. They improved to 9-3 and will travel to No. 5 Andrean for a regional next Friday. Andrean routed Bremen 56-13 in the Sectional 33 final.

Trailing 10-8, Rochester got the ball to start the second half and went on a 19-play drive that melted 9:45 off the clock but ended with Parker Wallace missing a 22-yard field goal.

On the play prior to the missed field goal, Rochester fumbled on the Central Catholic 2 on third-and-goal. Quarterback Aaron Swango recovered, but the Zebras lost three yards, and Shaffer called for the field goal unit.

“We came down in the second half and drove it right down and had a fumble on the 1-yard-line and put us in a situation with fourth-and-5, and I felt at that time that the field goal was the best choice, and we didn’t make it and put ourselves in a hole,” Shaffer said. “The kids fought and got us a chance, but it was just too little, too late.”

Rochester forced a punt thanks to two Central Catholic holding penalties, but the next Zebra possession ended with Ryan Delgatto blocking Alex Griggs’ punt and recovering at the Zebra 39 with 8:51 left in the game.

A 12-yard back-shoulder throw from Mazur to Koch in the deep left corner of the end zone on fourth-and-4 and Henry’s extra point made it a two-possession game at 17-8 with 7:24 left.

Rochester turned the ball over on downs on their next drive with Isaac Buche batting down Swango’s screen pass try on fourth-and-13 from their own 9.

The Zebras held as Dylan Hook blocked Henry’s 23-yard field goal attempt, but after another four-and-out Rochester possession, Central Catholic went on a six-play, 16-yard drive with Smith scoring on a leap over the top on fourth-and-goal from the 1 to complete the scoring.

“I think it was a thing where we had to match their physicality,” Central Catholic coach Brian Nay said. “When we were able to get up to that level of physicality, we were able to neutralize them the rest of the game. But at the same point in time, we felt at times like it was slipping away. Rochester is such a well-coached team, and their physical style of play is extremely hard to replicate in practice. It’s very hard to match their physicality. I’m very proud of our kids that we were able to do that. But hats off to them because they made us earn every inch tonight.”

Each team scored on their first possession.

Central Catholic drove 80 yards in nine plays to start. Mazur was 4 for 4 passing on the drive, and the Knights converted a pair of third downs.

Smith capped the drive with an 18-yard touchdown run up the middle.

Rochester answered with a 13-play, 61-yard drive that included two fourth-and-1 conversions from Deming. The only play of the drive that went for longer than seven yards was Beck’s 18-yard run off the left side following a kickout block from brother Brady Beck.

Brant Beck followed with a two-point conversion that gave the Zebras an 8-7 lead.

Central Catholic answered with a 61-yard drive that ended with Henry kicking a 23-yard field goal. But the Knights, who came in averaging 37 points per game, punted their next three possessions.

“I think it was more just adjusting to the speed that they were playing at and what they were doing rather than what we made,” Shaffer said of the defense. “We had some things we were doing in coverage against them anyway and had really just good efforts out of our team.”

The next three Zebra drives ended with a Brant Beck fumble, a Griggs 38-yard punt and the end of the half.

“I can’t say enough about their style of play,” Nay said of the Zebras. “They are scary. For Coach to only be in his second year and for them to get to this level, especially two years removed from not winning a game, they’re on the rise, man. It’s about to be scary around here. It was scary tonight for us, believe me.”

Lafayette Central Catholic 24, Rochester 8

LCC 7 3 0 14 – 24

Rochester 8 0 0 0 – 8

First quarter

LCC – Baylor Smith 18 run (Thomas Henry kick)

RHS – Brant Beck 18 run (Beck run)

Second quarter

LCC – Henry 23 FG

Third quarter

(no scoring)

Fourth quarter

LCC – Robert Koch 12 pass from Ben Mazur (Henry kick)

LCC - Smith 1 run (Henry kick)

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