ROCHELLE — The Rochelle Hub varsity football team cut Chicago (St. Patrick)’s lead to seven points with 4:14 remaining in its 5A second round playoff game thanks to a five-yard touchdown run by junior Cody Cullum-Stover.
The Hubs were unable to recover an onside kick afterwards and the Shamrocks’ rushing attack finished off their 21-14 victory and ran out the clock at Triton College in River Forest Friday night.
Rochelle Head Coach Kyle Kissack was impressed by his team’s effort after it trailed by two touchdowns for much of the game.
“They get into a tough game like this and just remain relentless with their physicality,” Kissack said. “It speaks to the reliability to hang in and battle back from some adversity. Which also speaks to our resilience. Our kids are super resilient when you think about the things they've had to overcome and the games they've been in this year and the way they've played.”
The loss to 13th-seeded Chicago St. Patrick (7-4, 4-0 Chicago Catholic League/East Suburban Catholic Conference Purple Division) snapped fifth-seeded Rochelle’s seven-game winning streak and ended the playoff run for the Hubs (8-3, 5-1 Interstate 8/Kishwaukee River Blue Division).
The first score of the game came on a six-yard run by Shamrock senior running back Alex Goworowski, who scored again later in the quarter on a 30-yard touchdown. He tacked on a third touchdown in the third quarter on a 44-yarder and finished with 155 yards.
“Goworowski is a good player,” Kissack said. “We knew that. That's a really good football player. There's just a lot of points of attack on their offense. They just caught us on a couple of misfit schemes and hit a few seams. Our kids battled. It was almost like we'd get them into third down and then they'd knife us for a big gain. Just a great effort by our kids. We just couldn't quite get a stop when we needed to."
Rochelle’s first touchdown in the game came just before the end of the first half on a five-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Josh Lloyd to senior tight end Ethan Wells.
The Hubs recorded 230 yards rushing that nearly matched the Shamrocks’ 258. Cullum-Stover ran for 95 yards, junior Trey Taft rushed for 41, junior Garrett Gensler ran for 45 and Lloyd recorded 49 yards rushing.
Kissack said Rochelle’s trademark rushing attack isn’t built to play from behind, but that isn’t why it fell short Friday night.
“The things that we do well are things that they didn't necessarily defend well,” Kissack said. “You sort of look at the overarching picture of the game and there were a number of times where we made some critical self-inflicted mistakes that either shut down a drive or put us in a tough position to come back and get the first down. We battled back and had a shot. I thought just a couple mistakes here or there changed it and it could have been a different ballgame."
With just a few minutes to reflect on the season that was, Kissack spoke of the year’s journey that was led by the team’s senior class.
“We had so much fun,” Kissack said. “Those guys are an absolute blast. I've never been around kids in a football program that genuinely love each other more, have more fun with each other and play as hard for each other as these kids did.”