Rochester High Wins Against Odds

Predictions don’t always come true. Rochester made sure of that when the Falcons faced off against Troy Athens Friday.

Although the underdog, according to multiple publications, Rochester rallied for a 35-14 OAA Red Division victory to record their fourth win of the season and third straight.

“We found a way to win,” Rochester head coach Eric Vernon said. “And we didn’t play the sharpest game, but Troy Athens had a good game and played pretty well. We found a way to win.”

Throughout the first half, both teams had multiple turnovers. The Falcons (4-1, 3-1)
still overcame those mishaps first and opened the scoring with a touchdown pass from senior quarterback Nick Bradley to junior Matt Luca.

The lead was cut to 7-6 when Athens (2-3, 1-3) scored just three minutes later on a 30-yard pass play from Ben Bartnowak to Sam Haskell. The Red Hawks missed the extra point.

Athens eventually took the lead at 14-7 when Tyler Everlove hauled in a 6-yard scoring toss from Bartnowak in the second quarter.

“Our offense had done better than they have in the season,” Athens senior Luke Winkel said. “We have our identity for our offense, so they started to move the ball.”

Rochester tied the game at 14-14 when Bradley hit Billy Klotz on a 14-yard pass play.

In a similar fashion against Troy two weeks ago, the Falcons recovered a fumbled punt on their own 5-yard line later in the quarter. Moments later, Rochester’s Cody DeVoe caught a lateral and returned it 65 yards to put the Falcons up for good at 21-14.

“I’ll tell you what, that was a huge call,” Rochester senior Nick Reed said. “Our offensive coordinator (Ed Hillery) called that one and it was a huge call and a big time (play) that really got our momentum high. We’re just going to get ready for next week.”

Another bright spot for the Falcons was the play of Klotz, who had two touchdown catches, both from the arm of Bradley.

Klotz also caught a 47-yard strike from Bradley and DeVoe added a 2-yard rushing touchdown in the second half to cap the scoring for Rochester.

“I feel great,” Klotz said. “I’m just happy we won and that we’re on a roll. We’re just pumped up. We’re happy the line played great and next week is probably one of the biggest games at Rochester in maybe 10 years.”

Next week the Falcons play Clarkston, a perennial state powerhouse which reached the state semifinals last season. Though it’s easy just to look at the flaws in Rochester’s play against Athens, one only has to look at the Red Hawks’ miscues that changed the outcome of the game.

“Obviously, we tired as hard as possible but it’s a tough loss,” Winkel said. “I mean we fought hard throughout the game. It’s just huge mistakes and bad execution is what it comes down too. Dumb penalties (is what gave Rochester momentum), offsides, personal fouls, that type of stupid stuff that you’ve got to execute on.”

Rochester will take the win since it could help them reach their ultimate goal: the state playoffs for the first time since 1999.

“Two more wins and we make the playoff, that’s our goal — that’s our only goal,” said Reed. “Beating this team is great but we (still) need six wins.”

Though Reed talked openly about Rochester’s playoff chances, Vernon is a little more cautious.

“We just got to make sure that we keep playing hard,” Vernon said, “The kids keep doing it and it gives them motivation … we got a long ways to go, I’m not going to talk about playoffs yet. We’ve got a big game against Clarkston next week.”

(Aaron Kuhn is a student writer for www.northoaklandsports.com and a staff writer for Rochester High’s The Talon school newspaper.)
Falcons fly past Athens for third straight win
BY Dan Stickradt
Sep 25 2010

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