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They come in Peas: Northfield junior runs for first down on fake punt, catches game-winning TD pass

Zebras rally from 14 points down to tie before falling to Norse for 3rd straight year


Sports Editor, RTC

Jaxton Peas caught a 9-yard touchdown pass from Jake Halderman with 19 seconds left to lift the Northfield football team to a 28-21 win over host Rochester on Homecoming at Barnhart Field Friday.

Northfield won their fifth straight game and improved to 5-2 overall and 5-1 in the Three Rivers Conference. Rochester, playing for the first time since Sept. 10 after a COVID-related pause, fell to 3-2, 2-2.

Peas’ touchdown catch capped a 12-play, 85-yard drive that started after stopping Rochester on downs when Alex Deming was stopped for a 1-yard loss on fourth down from the Northfield 14 with 5:38 left.

Northfield’s game-winning drive included a fourth down conversion on a 13-yard run by Peas on a fake punt. Peas was the upback and took the punt snap and slanted forward off the left side of the line, and a giant pile surged forward to convert a fourth-and-3 and move the ball to the Northfield 49.

“They executed better than we did,” Rochester coach Ron Shaffer said of the fake punt. “We kind of knew something was up, but you’ve got to assume that they might punt too, and we’re still in the game, and we want to win it and try to get a return, so we were in a regular defensive front. They got a better push.”

Rochester had a chance at a takeaway on the next play. Quarterback Halderman went around the right perimeter on an option keeper. He fumbled as he was on his way down, but teammate Jaydan Goshert recovered on the Rochester 31.

Mason Fisher ran for 5 yards. Dylan Ross caught an 8-yard pass and got out of bounds at the Rochester 18. The Zebras called their last timeout with 36.1 seconds left.

Two plays later, a Goshert 9-yard run got Northfield down to the Zebra 9.

Northfield called timeout with 23.6 seconds left.

On the next snap, Peas moved out into the pass pattern from his right wingback spot. He collided with a Rochester linebacker, who slipped and fell. Halderman then floated a pass to a wide open Peas for the score.

Freshman Easton Shaw made all four of his extra point tries for Northfield.

Deming led Rochester with 113 yards rushing. He ran for a touchdown, and his two-point conversion run following an 18-yard touchdown pass from Aaron Swango to Antonio Schlosser with 8.5 seconds left in the third quarter tied the game.

Rochester trailed 21-7 at halftime but scored on their first two possessions of the second half.

Deming’s 1-yard touchdown run with 8:03 left in the third quarter capped an eight-play, 62-yard drive. The play prior to the touchdown was a 44-yard gain on 4th-and-5 that turned out to be Rochester’s longest play from scrimmage: Swango handed off to Schlosser, who then handed to Payton Luhnow on an inside counter, who then ran 18 yards to the Northfield 25, who then lateraled to Swango running just behind him, who then sprinted all the way to the 1 before his lunge to the pylon was ruled just short.

Wallace’s point after attempt was blocked.

After the Zebras stopped Northfield on downs at their own 35, Rochester followed with an eight-play, 65-yard drive.

The first seven plays of the drive were runs, including six Deming totes for 30 yards. The eighth play of the drive was a high-arching 18-yard touchdown pass from Swango to an open Schlosser in the back of the end zone.

Deming’s two-point conversion run tied the game.

On the first play of the ensuing drive, Swango intercepted Fisher’s halfback deep ball intended for Ross on the Zebra 33 with 1.5 seconds left in the quarter.

A 27-yard Deming run on third-and-14 gave them a first down. Three plays later, a 4-yard Colton Ferverda run gave them another first down.

A hobbled Deming had left the game to get his ankle taped.

On the 12th play of the drive, he was back, and his number was called on fourth-and-1.

“We bobbled the snap,” Shaffer said. “Timing was off. You know, they made plays. They’re coached too. And they’re a good defense, and tonight we came short on that play.”

Northfield coach Brandon Baker feared that Rochester would milk the clock and play keep-away if they got the first down.

“For sure,” Baker said. “Both teams are running teams and eat up clock. We knew all the way down there that if we did get it back, we were probably going to be down with not a lot of time left. So that was a huge, huge defensive stand.”

Northfield never trailed. Fisher returned the opening kickoff 88 yards for a touchdown.

Rochester punted on their first two possessions, and Northfield made it 14-0 with 2:03 left in the quarter on Peas’ 24-yard touchdown run, which came one play after a Peas 30-yard reception.

Rochester’s first score came after a fourth down stop on their own 40.

Schlosser had a 22-yard reception, and Luhnow followed with a 12-yard run. When Northfield was cited for a personal foul penalty for targeting on Luhnow’s run, that moved the ball to the Northfield 11.

McKee’s 2-yard touchdown run on a sweep left and Parker Wallace’s extra point cut the deficit to 14-7.

But Northfield answered with a 30-yard touchdown pass from Halderman to Fisher on their next drive to make it 21-7.

Zebra notes

  • In addition to recovering the fumble of his teammate Halderman in the fourth quarter, Goshert also recovered Mitchell Shafer’s onside kick that deflected off Northfield’s Malachi Higgins at the Northfield 44 that led to a crazy scramble at the bottom of the pile with Rochester trailing 14-7 in the second quarter. Northfield then went on a 56-yard touchdown drive.

“You make your own breaks,” Shaffer said. “They were hustling. They got to the ball. They got them. Not that our kids weren’t hustling. But good things happen when you hustle to the ball. And they just came up with them. I don’t know how they recovered that onside kick. I thought we had more guys than they did, and we just didn’t get it.”

  • Zebra two-way lineman Marshall Fishback was named Homecoming king. Kylie Houston was named Homecoming queen.

  • Zebra players wore black and gold uniforms provided by the Indiana National Guard that said “INARNG” on the name plate on the back of the uniform.

  • The Ken Hughes Benefit Dinner was held from 4-7 p.m. before the game to help defray medical expenses for the Rochester assistant coach. First Christian Church assisted with providing the meal. Hughes has been an RHS assistant coach since 2005.

Northfield 28, Rochester 21

Northfield 14 7 0 7 – 28

Rochester 0 7 14 0 – 21

First quarter

NF – Mason Fisher 88 kickoff return (Easton Shaw kick)

NF – Jaxton Peas 24 run (Shaw kick)

Second quarter

RHS – Gavin McKee 2 run (Parker Wallace kick)

NF – Fisher 30 pass from Halderman (Shaw kick)

Third quarter

RHS – Alex Deming 1 run (kick blocked)

RHS – Antonio Schlosser 18 pass from Aaron Swango (Deming run)

Fourth quarter

NF – Peas 9 pass from Halderman (Shaw kick)

RTC area football scoreboard – Oct. 1

Northfield 28, Rochester 21

Watch Entire game Here:

Tippecanoe Valley 57, Maconaquah 6

Culver 22, Caston 14

Pioneer 34, Knox 14

Winamac 35, West Central 0

TRC football scoreboard – Oct. 1

Northfield 28, Rochester 21

Tippecanoe Valley 57, Maconaquah 6

Peru 33, Southwood 14

Wabash 48, North Miami 7

Manchester 42, Whitko 7

Hoosier North football scoreboard – Oct. 1

Culver 22, Caston 14

Pioneer 34, Knox 14

North Judson 35, Triton 16

Winamac 35, West Central 0 (nonconference)

LaVille 14, John Glenn 7 (nonconference)

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