Deming runs for 203 yards, 4 TDs, leads Rochester past Seeger
Shafer recovers own onside kick, Beck adds 131 yards on ground as Zebras improve to 9-1
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
WEST LEBANON — Rochester junior fullback Alex Deming admitted after his team’s game against host Seeger in a Class 2A, Sectional 34 quarterfinal Friday that he would be sore when he wakes up in the morning and would need an ice bath.
Alex Deming both takes in and gives off chilly vibes. He takes enough punishment that he needs an ice bath, and he dishes out some cold, hard truth: Beating the Zebras is not easy when he has the ball in his hands.
Deming ran 23 times for 203 yards and four touchdowns, and freshman Brant Beck added 131 yards on 13 carries as Rochester shook off two turnovers and pulled away to beat Seeger 40-12.
Rochester improved to 9-1 and snapped the Patriots’ seven-game winning streak. Rochester will travel to Benton Central for a semifinal next week. Benton Central handled Delphi 34-7 in their quarterfinal.
Seeger finished 7-3.
Rochester’s nine wins are their most in a season since 2014. Rochester also won a postseason road game for the first time since a win at Twin Lakes in 2014. Rochester’s previous 10 sectional games had been played at home prior to Friday.
“I thought it was really good,” Rochester coach Ron Shaffer said of his team’s physicality. “I think they exceeded theirs, and I think they felt our physicality. I give a lot of credit to T.J. Ragan the (Seeger) coach. He said that, but he’s got a program he’s trying to build, and he’s done a really nice job in one year.”
Sophomore offensive and defensive lineman Xavier Vance said being physical is a point of emphasis.
“It’s like one of our motives that we have,” Vance said. “Be physical, play through it, and things will go good.”
Deming also ran for four two-point conversions, and Aaron Swango threw a two-point conversion pass to Beck. Colton Ferverda had 51 of his 68 yards rushing in the second half and also scored a touchdown on the ground.
Kicker Mitchell Shafer recovered an onside kick in the third quarter that set up a Rochester touchdown.
Seeger scored on their first drive of each half, but their 12 points were a season low.
Trailing 16-6 at halftime, Seeger’s Finnian McLain recovered Maddox Jewell’s muffed kickoff to start the second half, and quarterback Noah Stephen capped a seven-play, 32-yard scoring drive with a 13-yard touchdown pass to Hunter Thomas with 8:46 left in the third quarter. Stephen tried scrambling for a two-point conversion but was forced out of bounds.
Rochester then finished the game with 24 unanswered points.
On the ensuing drive, they drove 61 yards in six plays. Deming had three straight first downs on runs of 8, 13 and 11 yards. Beck ran 17 yards down to the Seeger 8, and Ferverda scored on the next play.
Deming’s two-point conversion run made it 24-12.
Then Shafer stepped up, dribbling an onside kick down the middle of the field. Shafer surrounded the kick just as it crossed the 10-yard mark and fell on it.
“We just noticed they were bailing, so we went with the onside kick, and Mitchell has been working on that all week,” Shaffer said.
And then more of the same.
Ferverda ran for nine yards, and Deming added seven more. Brant Beck gained three yards on third-and-1 to get the ball into the red zone.
Rayce Carr made a touchdown-saving tackle on Ferverda at the Patriot 5, and Deming scored on the next play and added another two-point conversion to make it 32-12.
Deming identified toss, down and belly as successful plays and credited his offensive line. Eli Swango did not start at right guard but came in later and supplied several kickout blocks that Deming followed.
“I think we put in the work pushing the sled,” Deming said of the Zebras’ physicality. “A lot of mental game. I think it’s very mental. It’s us versus them. … The whole team is getting in the weight room. (Wrestling) coach (Clint) Gard gets the guys in the weight room, football and wrestling, and we all just get in there and lift.”
Shafer tried another onside kick, but Rochester touched the ball before it traveled 10 yards. That’s a penalty, and Seeger took over at the Zebras 48.
Seeger went on a 12-play drive, which ended when Thomas, Seeger’s fullback, was stopped for only a three-yard gain on fourth-and-goal from the Rochester 7.
Rochester then responded with a 19-play, 96-yard odyssey that took 7:53 off the clock. They converted three third downs and a fourth down, and when Deming took a toss to the right and scored from the 2 on fourth-and-goal, it was 38-12.
Swango, who did not complete a pass from scrimmage, did complete a two-point pass to Beck to complete the scoring.
“Actually, a lot of our coaches have run wing-T … and we thought we had an answer going into it,” Ragan said of Rochester’s unique offensive system. “We thought we had a couple adjustments. And to be honest, they just handed it to us physically. We didn’t have an answer as coaches. We didn’t prepare our guys, and … we need to do a better job.”
After playing a three-man defensive front for the entirety of their regular season finale against pass-happy Maconaquah one week earlier, Rochester went to a four-man defensive front to start against Seeger. Vance started at defensive end and Hunter Shriver got a nod at defensive tackle.
Seeger drove 66 yards on 11 plays on the game’s opening possession. Stephen completed four of five passes, and Peyton Chinn ran 9 yards for a touchdown on a student body sweep to the left.
Cory Moore-Walker missed the extra point.
After that, the Patriots scored just once in six possessions.
“I played quite a bit,” Vance said of playing defense. “It was quite tiring, but I had to stick through it. … We created a new defensive set-up called jumbo, and it had Hunter Shriver playing nose, and I moved out to end in a seven-technique to get under the tight end to mess up some runs.”
Showing off a new-wrinkle formation with freshman Carson Paulik at a second tight end spot opposite Alex Griggs, Rochester then went on a 10-play, 69-yard drive with Deming accounting for 47 yards on six carries. The drive included an 11-yard Deming run on fourth-and-3 from the Seeger 12 and a 1-yard Deming scoring run on the next play.
Deming’s extra effort on the two-point conversion gave Rochester an 8-6 lead.
Dylan Hook’s interception was offset by a Chinn interception of Swango on fourth down.
Then, on fourth-and-2 from the Rochester 40, Wesley Meadows wrangled down Chinn for one yard with help from cornerback Payton Luhnow in run support.
Rochester then followed with a 62-yard scoring drive that included runs of 22 and 30 yards from Beck on consecutive plays following blocks from right guard Eli Swango and left guard Brady Beck.
That got the ball down the Seeger 1, and another Deming 1-yard touchdown run and a two-point conversion run gave Rochester a 16-6 lead with 1:10 left in the half.
Rochester 40, Seeger 12
Rochester 8 8 16 8 – 40
Seeger 6 0 6 0 – 12
SEE – Peyton Chinn 9 run (kick failed)
RHS – Alex Deming 1 run (Deming run)
RHS – Deming 1 run (Deming run)
SEE – Hunter Thomas 13 pass from Noah Stephen (run failed)
RHS – Colton Ferverda 8 run (Deming run)
RHS – Deming 5 run (Deming run)
RHS – Deming 2 run (Brant Beck pass from Aaron Swango)