Plummer runs for 2 TDs, Smith returns second-half kickoff for TD in LaVille win over Rochester
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
One more big game from Alex Deming was not enough to offset one big kickoff return and some big runs from LaVille quarterback Lucas Plummer in Rochester’s Class 2A, Sectional 34 quarterfinal at Barnhart Field Friday.
Plummer ran for two touchdowns, and Owen Smith also scored twice – including once on the opening kickoff of the second half -- as the visiting Lancers knocked off the Zebras 29-7.
LaVille improved to 7-2 and will host Bremen in the semifinals. Bremen beat Manchester 28-13 Friday.
Rochester finished 5-3.
Incredibly, due to the randomness of the IHSAA’s blind draw, Rochester has played their last 10 postseason games at home. They are 2-8 in those games.
“Our kids battled all the way through,” Rochester first-year coach Ron Shaffer said. “Maybe the score doesn’t look like it at 29-7, but I don’t think anybody ever gave up, and our kids ever gave up. We’ve got be smarter about our decision making and what we do at the end of the game, but for the most part, the kids played really hard.
“I just feel bad for our seniors. We wanted this thing to go on.”
Deming ran for 152 yards on 22 carries and scored Rochester’s only touchdown on a 2-yard run with 2:09 left in the first quarter. Parker Wallace added the extra point.
In a season shortened to eight games because of COVID concerns in mid-September, Deming finished the season with 1,583 yards rushing and 21 touchdowns.
LaVille took the lead for good with 2:43 left in the half when Plummer scored from the Rochester 5-yard line on a scramble on fourth down.
On the ensuing conversion, holder Smith lateraled to Plummer, who was lined up as the kicker. He rolled to the right and passed to Noah Richhart, who made a juggling catch in the end zone for a two-point conversion to give LaVille an 8-7 lead.
LaVille’s twin deep safeties hovered around their own 20-yard line on the opening kickoff, perhaps expecting a pooch kick. Rochester coaches instructed kicker Mitchell Shafer to kick it deep over their heads.
Smith ranged back on the kickoff and zagged forward toward the middle of the field and then cut back toward the sideline without breaking stride for a touchdown. Plummer’s extra point made it 15-7.
It was the second kickoff for a touchdown Rochester had allowed in their last four games.
“We did kick it deep,” Shaffer said. “That’s what we wanted. And it was a good placement. Just poor technique by a couple guys. In that, you’ve got to stay in your lanes. We had one guy go two lanes over. We harp on that and talk about that all the time.”
LaVille scored on another Plummer 5-yard run on the first play of the fourth quarter to make it 22-7. That capped off an eight-play, 66-yard drive that included a 43-yard run from Plummer that got the ball in the red zone.
After a Rochester three-and-out, LaVille embarked on another six-play, 50-yard scoring drive.
Smith scored on a 12-yard sweep around the right side. He followed Richhart’s lead block and was determined to have stretched the ball inside the right front pylon of the goal line after the officials deliberated for several minutes.
Meanwhile, Rochester did not score in the second half. It was their first scoreless half of the season.
“We just struggled with consistency,” Shaffer said. “I don’t know if it was plays necessarily that didn’t or did work. We couldn’t continue to be successful in the plays we wanted to be. There were times we wanted to pass the ball, and we had too many negative plays in that. We got the ball back after the kickoff return. … The game plan was there. We just faltered a few times in execution, and it hurt us tonight.”
Rochester scored on their second drive after taking over at their 33 when they stopped LaVille running back Paul DeWitt for a one-yard loss on fourth-and-4.
Quarterback Aaron Swango hit Gavin McKee for 37 yards in the right flat. Then Deming had a 6-yard run. Then Deming followed Brady Beck on a trap play to the right. LaVille’s Collin Czarnecki stripped Deming, and it appeared as if Plummer would recover the fumble, but it slipped out of his hands and McKee fell on it at the LaVille 2.
Deming muscled his way into the end zone off the left side to give Rochester the lead.
After an exchange of punts, LaVille drove 51 yards in sveen plays for their first score. Plummer had completions of 15 yards to Czarnecki and 12 yards to DeWitt on the drive. Rochester also committed a pass interference penalty and a roughing-the-passer penalty.
Still, after two incompletions and a stop on Richhart, the Zebras had a chance to get off the field unscathed.
LaVille called their last timeout with 2:49 left on fourth-and-goal from the 5.
With four wide receivers on the left, Plummer scrambled in that direction and scored.
LaVille 29, Rochester 7
LaVille 0 8 7 14 – 29
Rochester 7 0 0 0 – 7
RHS – Alex Deming 2 run (Parker Wallace kick)
LV – Lucas Plummer 5 run (Noah Richhart pass from Plummer)
LV – Owen Smith 88 kickoff return (Plummer kick)
LV – Plummer 5 run (Plummer kick)
LV – Smith 12 run (Plummer kick)
Watch Entire game Here: