It’s been a magical season for Rochester Zebra football.
Winless just two seasons ago at the height of the Covid pandemic, the program turned IT around last season to finish with a 5-3 record and a postseason loss to a LaVille team that was ranked in the top five this season in Ron Shaffer's debut season as head coach.
Now, 10 wins, a top 10 ranking and a share of the Three Rivers Conference title.
But dreams of a sectional title ended at Barnhart Field last night.
9th-ranked Lafayette Central Catholic used a 14-0 final quarter to pull away from Rochester and win the 2A Sectional 34 title Friday, 24-8.
LCC scored early. Leading rusher Baylor Smith, over 1300 yards on the ground this season, scored on a 22-yard run to provide the Knights the early lead, 7-0.
Rochester answered quickly with a drive on the ensuing kickoff from the 28-yard line. Freshman Brady Beck scored his ninth rushing TD of the season from 18 yards out. When Beck added a two-point conversion Rochester had its only lead of the night, 8-7.
LCC’s Thomas Henry kicked a 23-yard field goal early in the second period to take back the lead, 10-8.
Rochester’s final three possessions of the second quarter resulted in two punts and the clock running out at halftime.
The game remained scoreless into the fourth. LCC blocked a Rochester punt that led to a possession that featured a run by Baylor Smith to the 21-yard line of Rochester. Robert Koch capped the drive with a 17-yard touchdown reception. With the extra point, LCC took a two-score lead, 17-8.
An exchange of possessions in the game’s final minutes ended when Smith scored again for LCC on a one-yard plunge in the closing moments to cap a sectional championship win, 24-8.
Head coach Ron Shaffer spoke about the season with Randy Wynn Saturday morning on GIANT fm Sports on WROI.
For Rochester (10-2), it was a sectional championship appearance for the first time since 2000. That game 22 years ago was a stretch of five championship game appearances in seven years.
LCC (9-3) will travel to 3rd-ranked Andrean (8-3) for the regional championship next week. Andrean overwhelmed Bremen, 56-13.