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  • Val T.

Rochester beats Maconaquah, shares TRC title with Valley, Southwood

Deming, Beck, Ferverda all go over 100 yards on ground


Sports Editor, RTC

BUNKER HILL — Two years after a winless season, the Rochester football team re-emerged on top of the Three Rivers Conference Friday thanks to their own efforts and with some help from Southwood.

Alex Deming

Alex Deming ran for 195 yards and two touchdowns, Colton Ferverda had 120 yards on the ground, and Brant Beck added 115 yards and two touchdowns as the Zebras beat host Maconaquah 38-14.

Meanwhile, Southwood shocked visiting Tippecanoe Valley 28-26, ending Valley’s 17-game regular season winning streak.

Those results meant that Rochester, Valley and Southwood shared the TRC crown with 7-1 records. Maconaquah finished in sole possession of fourth at 6-2.

The conference title is Rochester’s first since 2014, which was the last year of the eight-team conference.

Ron Shaffer said afterwards that he wanted to be the Rochester coach after that 2020 season because even though the team was 0-8, he liked the kids and thought they cared to be good.

“It feels great, knowing where we came from,” senior quarterback-defensive back Aaron Swango said. “From my freshman and especially sophomore year, that 0-8 season, it just feels great to put that work in and get back out and become conference champs my senior year. It feels awesome.”

The win was also their first ever at Maconaquah. Their previous two wins over Maconaquah, in the 1998 sectional final and the 2021 regular season, occurred at home.

Class 2A, No. 8 Rochester will carry an 8-1 record into their Class 2A, Sectional 34 quarterfinal at Seeger next week.

Braxton Birner threw two touchdown passes to Fuddy Kile for Maconaquah, who finished the regular season 6-3.

The Zebras were in an 8-8 deadlock with the Braves at halftime but scored on the first possession of the second half with Beck following a block from Deming on a 10-yard touchdown run. Deming followed with a two-point conversion run, and the Zebras were ahead for good at 16-8.

A Hunter Campbell interception set up Deming, who followed an Eli Swango kickout block and scored on a nine-yard run. Payton Luhnow added the two-point conversion to make it 24-8.

On the ensuing kickoff, a Maconaquah up man muffed Mitchell Shafer’s high kickoff, and Deming recovered at the Maconaquah 40.

Beck gained 12 yards on first down. Three plays later, Ferverda took a counter around the right perimeter for 12 more yards to the 5. Another five-yard scoring run from Deming – he once again followed a kickout block from Eli Swango – and a Ferverda two-point conversion run made it 32-8.

“We just really had to control that o-line,” Aaron Swango said. “Just getting our blocks, making the right calls. That’s really what it came down to.”

The Braves answered with a 39-yard touchdown pass from Birner to Kile on fourth-and-4, but the two-point conversion failed, and Rochester answered with another eight-play, 68-yard scoring drive that included another 23-yard run off left tackle from Deming.

Payton Luhnow capped the drive with a two-yard touchdown run to make it 38-14 with 4:00 left.

Rochester forced a three-and-out, and not even an 82-yard wind-aided punt from Kevin Nord that was downed at the 1-yard-line could prevent an imminent Zebra celebration.

Rochester scored first on Beck’s 5-yard touchdown run on a jet sweep to the left with 2:08 left in the first quarter. Ferverda’s two-point conversion run made it 8-0.

But the Zebras, who came in averaging 43 points per game, did not score in the second quarter. Ferverda was held to four yards on fourth-and-6 from the Maconaquah 24 on their first possession of the quarter, and their second possession ended with a Ferverda fumble that Kile recovered at the Zebra 18.

Kile then caught a 13-yard touchdown pass from Birner in the back right corner of the end zone three plays later, and Birner threw a two-point conversion pass to Kaleb Shelton to tie the game.

Another Rochester possession ended with Deming being stopped for one yard on fourth-and-2 from the Maconaquah 40, but Rochester forced a punt and was able to carry a tie into halftime.

The defensive game plan was to play zone. Aaron Swango played his first full game on defense, covering the flat. Wesley Meadows saw extended time at linebacker. Dylan Hook saw extended time at safety. Rochester typically rushed only three men – defensive ends Deming and Ethan Brock and nose tackle Brady Beck – and dropped eight in the zone.

“We couldn’t get 11 guys together on offense in the first half, and our defense just hung in there and kept us in it,” Shaffer said. “Tremendous job by our coaching staff and the kids executing our game plan because those guys know how to play football on offense for sure.”

Rochester 38, Maconaquah 14

Rochester 8 0 8 22 – 38

Maconaquah 0 8 0 6 – 14

First quarter

RHS – Brant Beck 5 run (Colton Ferverda run)

Second quarter

MAC – Fuddy Kile 13 pass from Braxton Birner (Kaleb Shelton pass from Birner)

Third quarter

RHS – Beck 10 run (Payton Luhnow run)

Fourth quarter

RHS – Alex Deming 9 run (Luhnow run)

RHS – Deming 5 run (Ferverda run)

MAC – Kile 39 pass from Birner (pass failed)

RHS – Luhnow 2 run (run failed)

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