Deming’s rushing, Luhnow’s big plays help Rochester top Southwood
Southwood’s Lloyd throws 3 TDs to Winer, but Zebras also intercept him 3 times
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
The Rochester football team might not be known for their passing attack, but then again, their opponent rarely might make the error of having only 10 players on the field.
The Zebras took advantage of that mistake as part of a run of 28 unanswered points during the second half in beating visiting Southwood 35-21 at Barnhart Field in the season opener for both teams Friday.
The win broke Rochester’s four-game losing streak to Southwood and was their first win over the Knights since 2014.
Alex Deming and Payton Luhnow each accounted for 183 total yards out of Rochester’s 425-yard output.
Deming got all of his yards on the ground and ran for three touchdowns. Luhnow had 108 yards rushing and 75 yards receiving, and he scored twice.
Parker Wallace converted all five of his extra-point tries in his first varsity game.
The 75 yards came on one pass from Aaron Swango with 3:39 left in the third quarter and resulted in a touchdown and a 21-14 Rochester lead.
Southwood had only 10 men on the field on the play. Luhnow was lined up on the left wing and ran a seam route to where a safety might have been. Luhnow caught the ball behind the defense at the Rochester 44 with no defender within several yards of him and ran the final 56 yards untouched.
“Sometimes,” Luhnow said when asked if the play works like that in practice. “It really does sometimes, but I saw it coming. I saw open field, and I was like, ‘There we go.’ … The seam is the route that he’s mainly going for, but options are going to be open, always looking for everything.”
After a Gavin McKee interception, Rochester drove 54 yards in 12 plays, all runs. Deming had eight of the carries and scored untouched from the 1 to make it 28-14 with 6:53 left.
McKee had lost a fumble with 46.8 seconds left in the half and the game tied at 7. The fumble led to a Southwood touchdown. His fumble was a teaching moment, and his interception was a moment of redemption.
“We talked about it right after it happened,” Rochester coach Ron Shaffer said. “That’s why we play two halves. That’s why the game doesn’t hinge on one play. He’s trying to make a play. You know, you can’t try to score every play, and you’ve got to know the situation. We’re just trying to get out of the half. You know, it worked out, but we’ve got to learn from our mistakes.”
After the ensuing Southwood drive stalled with quarterback Mo Lloyd running out of bounds at the Rochester 43, Luhnow went 57 yards on a criss-cross counter off the right side for a touchdown to make it 35-14.
Shaffer later called Luhnow “electrifying.”.
Mo Lloyd threw a 49-yard touchdown pass to Cole Winer with 3:21 left, and Southwood recovered the onside kick that followed.
But that drive ended when Colton Ferverda intercepted Lloyd and returned it 45 yards to the Southwood 40 with 2:22 left.
A 33-yard Luhnow run on third-and-7 with just over a minute left and Southwood out of timeouts removed any doubt.
Winer finished with 10 catches for 185 yards and scored all 21 Southwood points – three touchdown catches and three extra points.
Lloyd threw the three touchdown passes, but the Zebras also intercepted him three times.
Dylan Hook also had a pick, and Rochester converted two of the three interceptions into scores.
Southwood had taken a 14-7 lead with five seconds to go in the first half on a 30-yard connection from Lloyd, scrambling to his right out of the pocket and just sidestepping Rochester defender Brady Beck and finding Winer, who outleaped multiple defenders in the end zone for the touchdown.
“We had some assignment mistakes, but they’ve got probably two all-state football players over there, in my opinion,” Shaffer said of Lloyd and Winer. “You know, Mo Lloyd is probably one of the best small school quarterbacks (in the) state, and heck, you could probably put him up against a lot of 4A and 5A kids.”
But Shaffer also praised his defenders.
“So they flew to the football, and good things happened,” he said.
Southwood got the ball to start the second half but had to punt after getting one first down.
Rochester then drove 72 yards in eight plays and tied the game at 14 with 6:49 left in the third quarter.
Deming had 58 of the 72 yards, including a 29-yard run that got the ball to the Southwood 24 and the 2-yard run that completed the drive.
Deming ran behind an offensive line that consisted of three veterans – Brady Beck, Austin Rogers and Hunter Shriver – and newcomers Peyton Young at right guard and Xavier Vance at left tackle.
“We’re coming along,” Shaffer said. “Can we do better? Sure. But I liked the reaction in the second half. Real physical, real fast. Got after it. The big-play ability helped.”
Winer had receptions of 35 and 19 yards on the ensuing drive, but Ethan Brock sacked Lloyd for a 5-yard loss, and three straight incompletions followed, giving the Zebras the ball at their own 25.
Up to that point, Swango had attempted one pass, which was incomplete. His second pass resulted in the connection to Luhnow.
Southwood lost two-way lineman Nevan Sharp to an apparent right leg injury with 11:06 left in the third quarter. Sharp, a senior, was first-team all-Three Rivers Conference last year.
Rochester had three two-way starters while Southwood had 10. Southwood coach Dave Snyder said his players were “cramping up all over the place”
“On the one touchdown, we had only 10 on the field,” Snyder explained. “The free safety had taken himself out, and we didn’t know it because of a cramp. So it was like, ‘Who in the heck is responsible for that?’ We had no free safety on the field.”
Rochester 35, Southwood 21
Southwood 7 7 0 7 – 21
Rochester 0 7 14 14 – 35
SW – Cole Winer 5 pass from Mo Lloyd (Cole Winer kick)
RHS – Alex Deming 9 run (Parker Wallace kick)
SW – Winer 30 pass from Lloyd (Winer kick)
RHS – Deming 2 run (Wallace kick)
RHS – Payton Luhnow 75 pass from Aaron Swango (Wallace kick)
RHS – Deming 1 run (Wallace kick)
RHS – Luhnow 57 run (Wallace kick)
SW – Winer 49 pass from Lloyd (Winer kick)