We told him he couldn’t get tired Deming runs for 252 yards 2 TDs, helps Rochester end losing streak
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
During their game with Knox at Barnhart Field Friday, Rochester football coach Ron Shaffer told sophomore fullback-linebacker Alex Deming how much he was going to rely on him, even in insufferably humid conditions.
“We told him he couldn’t get tired,” Shaffer said. “He just didn’t quit. We probably worked him too hard, but you know, for us, he’s our borrowed mule. We’re going to work him hard. And he doesn't complain about it, and he thanked me after the game for giving him the ball so many times as I did. He loves it, and he’d be the same guy that if I said, ‘Hey, we’re going to give the ball to the halfback on this play,’ he’s OK with it. He’s a team player. Man, it was a great team effort.”
The indefatigable Deming followed through on his coach’s orders, rushing for 252 yards and two touchdowns, including the game-winning 26-yard touchdown run with 8:45 left, to lead the Zebras to a 12-7 win.
Rochester took advantage of a double penalty on Knox to earn a win that snapped a 10-game losing streak. Rochester’s previous win was a 43-22 triumph over Delphi on Oct. 25, 2019 in the sectional.
It also marked Shaffer’s first career coaching win in his second game after two decades as a high school assistant coach.
Knox called timeout with 1:46 left with Rochester facing third-and-3 at their own 32. Deming plowed forward for five yards and a first down, and Rochester went into the victory formation.
Zebra players jumped for joy on the field before forming the handshake line with the Redskins.
“It’s all on them,” Shaffer said of his players. “As coaches, we don’t take a whole lot of credit, and we shouldn’t. These kids are out there busting their butt, and we looked each other in the eye at halftime and we just said, ‘Hey, we’ve got things we’ve got to get done. And they’re, ‘Yes, sir, no, sir.’ I love my job, and I love the kids. It’s two hours every day at practice that I love and look forward to every day and the same out here when we play a game for four hours. It’s a great feeling.”
While Shaffer complimented his players, a team leader raved about Shaffer. Marshall Fishback, a two-way starter at right guard and defensive end, throws the discus and shot put on the track team during the spring, and Shaffer is the track assistant coach in charge of the throwers.
“He’s meant about as much as anything to this program,” Fishback said. “He comes in every day, hypes us up, gets us going. Shows us genuine care, not just as a coach but as people. He looks after us, and to see him get his first win as a head coach after 20 years of coaching is a real nice feeling for us.”
Deming’s scoring run turned around a 7-6 deficit and completed the scoring. A two-point conversion attempt failed.
Knox had two more possessions. Cohen Watson completed a 16-yard pass to Gunnar Krause for a first down on the first possession, but three incomplete passes and a punt followed.
Rochester took 3:11 off the clock and turned the ball over on downs at the Knox 25 with 4:36 left.
A 39-yard pass from Watson to freshman Jake Conroy put the ball on the Zebra 33. An 11-yard Watson run moved the ball to the Rochester 22.
Shaffer called Rochester’s final timeout with 3:38 left.
Then came the double penalty. Krause ran for five yards, but officials called Knox for a holding penalty at the Zebra 20. Then they tacked on an unsportsmanlike conduct foul, moving Knox back 15 more yards. Instead of having it at the Rochester 17, they had first-and-33 at the Rochester 45.
After two incomplete passes, Watson hit Declan Austin for 20 yards, but on fourth-and-13, Watson threw incomplete again towards the right sideline.
Rochester had the ball at their own 25 with 2:34 left and got the game-clinching first down.
After playing primarily a 3-4 defense against Southwood in a 45-26 loss last week, Rochester showed a 4-4 look against Knox.
“We came out with a whole new game plan,” Fishback, who played defensive end, said. “Last week, we were in a dime look (six defensive backs). I was playing a lot of d-end last week. I was doing the same thing. The difference was we just had an extra guy on the line. They like to run the ball a lot. And we wanted to stop that early. And we did just that. … Thursday night, we completely changed our defensive line scheme. It was a completely different look.”
Deming’s first touchdown was a 43-yard touchdown run on the first Rochester offensive snap with 7:59 left in the first quarter.
Rochester’s second drive ended with a snap over punter Alex Griggs’ head that resulted in a 20-yard loss, but Knox’s ensuing drive ended with a fumble that Fishback recovered.
The next Zebra drive endured for 14 plays but ended with a Deming fumble that Knox recovered on their own 2.
The Redskins followed with a 13-play, 98-yard touchdown drive. They converted three third downs, all on passes and all where they needed 11 yards or more. After Knox had a touchdown taken off the board for an illegal substitution, Watson hit Krause over the middle for a 19-yard touchdown behind the defense on a third-and-11 play. Caleb Schwandt’s extra point gave Knox their first lead with 1:48 left in the half.
Rochester also beat Knox 12-7 at Community Field in Knox in the 2018 season.
Rochester quarterback Aaron Swango completed his first two passes of the season. Antonio Schlosser and Payton Luhnow had one reception each. Schlosser’s reception went for 18 yards and gained a first down.
Shaffer said two players were out with what he called “COVID stuff.” He didn’t identify the players.
Rochester 12, Knox 7
Knox 0 7 0 0 – 7
Rochester 6 0 0 6 – 12
RHS – Alex Deming 43 run (run failed)
KNOX – Gunnar Krause 19 pass from Cohen Watson (Caleb Schwandt kick)
RHS – Deming 26 run (run failed)
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