• Val T.

Deming crosses 1,000-yard mark, Swango throws first TD pass in Rochester win over Wabash

Zebras gain over 500 yards, score most points since 2018


BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS

Sports Editor, RTC

With just over two minutes left in the third quarter of their game against Rochester at Barnhart Field Friday, Wabash punter Greyson DeBoard let loose with a 32-yard punt with his team trailing 28-19.

In a vacuum, that would not be a big deal. Except it was “fifth” down.

It might sum up the Zebra season so far. They have gone the extra mile and made the extra play to achieve their first three-game winning streak in three years.

Alex Deming ran 29 times for 284 yards, Payton Luhnow took an inside counter 45 yards for a touchdown, and Aaron Swango threw a touchdown pass to Colton Ferverda as Rochester scored the game’s final 24 points to pull away and win 44-19.

Deming ran for four touchdowns, and he eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark for the season – he finished the game with a 1,070 – but his most important run might have been a 3-yard run on fourth down in Rochester’s own territory that resulted in a first down during a time where the Zebras led 20-19.

The 44 points were a season high and the most for the Zebras in a game since a 55-8 win over Taylor in the 2018 sectional. They also had 513 yards of total offense.

“I don’t know how good it was working,” Rochester coach Ron Shaffer said. “We just kept at it. Kids executed well at different times. Sometimes we acted like we never ran the offense before. Still got a lot of work to do, but the kids really in that fourth quarter took over, and it kind of started with Luhnow’s big run.

Rochester won their third straight game and improved to 3-1 overall and 2-1 in the Three Rivers Conference going into their Bell game showdown with Tippecanoe Valley next week.

Wabash dropped to 0-3, 0-1.

Sophomore quarterback Izaak Wright threw for 314 yards and three touchdowns for the Apaches, including touchdown passes of 60 and 80 yards to Antonio Grant.

Grant finished with seven receptions for 184 yards. Andrew Dillon also had a touchdown catch for Wabash, who fell to 0-13 against Rochester since joining the TRC in 2006.

Approximately 13 miles away, Class 3A, No. 11 Valley remained unbeaten with a 36-0 home win over Manchester on Friday in their final tuneup before the Bell game.

Rochester led 20-12 at halftime, but Wabash cut into the lead when Wright found Grant on a middle screen for an 80-yard touchdown pass with 8:28 left in the third quarter. DeBoard kicked the extra point to get the Rochester lead to one.

On the sixth play of the next drive, Rochester faced a fourth-and-1 from their own 45. Coach Ron Shaffer elected to go for it.

Deming surged forward for 3 yards and a first down.

Two plays later, Luhnow scored on his counter, and Ferverda followed with a 2-point conversion run to make it 28-19.

Then came Wabash’s “four-and-out” drive – the down marker on the field was wrong and officials did not catch the mistake either – that ended in a punt.

Rochester faced a second-and-21 from their own 41 to start the fourth quarter, but Ferverda ran for 37 yards on a counter.

With help from two Wesley Meadows runs totaling 12 yards, Deming scored five plays later from the 1. Deming also tallied a two-point conversion to make it 36-19.

And after stopping Wabash running back Colten Learned on fourth-and-2 from the Rochester 42, Rochester went on another five-play, 59-yard scoring drive.

Luhnow, who finished with 80 yards rushing, broke right for 16 yards. Three plays later, Swango found Ferverda in the left flat with a pass. He broke a tackle and outraced the Wabash defenders to the end zone for a score. Ferverda then added a 2-point conversion run.

It was both Swango’s first career touchdown pass and Ferverda’s first career touchdown reception.

Ferverda admitted later that the touchdown was an accident.

“I did not run the right route,” Ferverda said. “That was Aaron Swango’s first touchdown pass, and I never caught a pass in my life. It was crazy. I celebrated a little bit.”

Said Shaffer: “They did everything wrong and ended up scoring a touchdown. Sometimes that happens in high school football.”

Defensively, Rochester shifted their focus to stopping Grant. The Zebras played a 3-4 defense after playing primarily a 4-4 defense in wins over Knox and Whitko the previous two weeks. Hunter Shriver often manned the nose with Marshall Fishback and Austin Rogers lining up at the ends.

“Really the idea of corralling 11 (Grant’s uniform number),” Shaffer said. “We started to man him up just a little bit and try to disrupt him and just tackling better basically.”

Rochester has allowed only 32 points in their last three games, their best three-game defensive run in three years. Ferverda, who played deep alongside Antonio Schlosser, credited film study.

“We watch film, and we change it up however they (play),” Ferverda said. “Since they’re a passing offense, we did a 3-4, and we put all our backs because they like to throw deep. I just guarded number 11 (Grant).”

Wabash scored on their first drive, converting three third downs and scoring on a 9-yard pass from Wright to Dillon.

Rochester scored on their first two drives. Deming finished off a five-play, 80-yard drive with a 62-yard touchdown run on the first drive, and he capped a nine-play, 75-yard drive with an 11-yard touchdown run on the second drive.

A 2-point Ferverda run made it 14-6.

After Rochester forced a punt, they faced a fourth-and-5 from the Wabash 43. Ferverda was held to 3 yards on a counter to the right, and Wabash took over on downs.

Nine seconds later, Wright floated a deep ball to Grant behind the defense for a 60-yard touchdown. The two-point conversion attempt failed, and Rochester still led 14-12.

Rochester responded with their own scoring drive to go up 20-12. Gavin McKee gained 38 yards on a jet sweep one play prior to another 11-yard Deming scoring run.

Rochester 44, Wabash 19

Wabash 6 6 7 0 – 19

Rochester 6 14 8 16 – 44

First quarter

WAB – Andrew Dillon 9 pass from Izaak Wright (kick blocked)

RHS – Alex Deming 62 run (kick failed)

Second quarter

RHS – Deming 11 run (Colton Ferverda run)

WAB – Antonio Grant 60 pass from Wright (pass failed)

RHS – Deming 11 run (run failed)

Third quarter

WAB – Grant 80 pass from Wright (Greyson DeBoard kick)

RHS – Payton Luhnow 45 run (Ferverda run)

Fourth quarter

RHS – Deming 1 run (Deming run)

RHS – Ferverda 23 pass from Aaron Swango (Ferverda run)

RTC area football scoreboard – Sept. 10

Rochester 44, Wabash 19

Tippecanoe Valley 36, Manchester 0

Pioneer 42, Caston 6

Culver 38, West Central 14

TRC football scoreboard – Sept. 10

Rochester 44, Wabash 19

Tippecanoe Valley 36, Manchester 0

Peru 40, North Miami 0

Maconaquah 46, Whitko 0

Northfield 20, Southwood 13

Hoosier North football scoreboard – Sept. 10

Pioneer 42, Caston 6

Culver 38, West Central 14 (nonconference)

North Judson 21, Knox 14

Bremen 35, Triton 7 (nonconference)


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