LASALLE — LaSalle-Peru dominated on both sides of the trenches Saturday afternoon, when the Rochelle Hub varsity football team faced the Cavaliers on the road in conference play.
Despite a valiant effort in the first half from the Rochelle defense, LaSalle-Peru’s defense successfully shut out the Hubs for a second straight season. Behind four rushing touchdowns, all in the second half, LaSalle-Peru defeated Rochelle 29-0 and dropped the Hubs to 0-2. The Cavaliers limited Rochelle to only 39 rushing yards and four first downs in the contest.
“They got after us today,” head coach Kyle Kissack said. “It’s hard when we can’t win first downs and we didn’t have any opportunities to find our rhythm today. They have big, physical kids and that sort of game requires us to respond in an equally physical manner. We weren’t able to do that today offensively, but I thought our defense played really well in the first half.”
Rochelle held LaSalle-Peru to three first-half points, which came when Cavalier senior Drake Weber booted a 35-yard field goal through the uprights during the first quarter. LaSalle-Peru moved four first-half drives into the Rochelle red zone, but the Hubs rallied behind senior linebackers Gabe Neece and Ben Harvey, who combined for 19 tackles in the game, to keep the Cavaliers out of the end zone. Rochelle’s first two offensive possessions went for -1 yards.
“We had some nice red-zone stops and we have some things we can build on,” Kissack said. “This week will test our standards and our character and I think our kids will respond. Even though they had some size inside and really pounded the ball there, I thought we trusted our technique defensively and our kids fought through it. I’m happy with our defense right now.”
LaSalle-Peru scored on its first second-half possession, with running back Matt Carrico rushing for a 15-yard touchdown off the left side to put the Cavaliers ahead 9-0 after a failed 2-point attempt. LaSalle-Peru linebacker Trevon Hunter then intercepted Rochelle quarterback Josh Lloyd’s sideline pass for tight end Zach Sanford, leading to another Cavalier scoring drive capped off by a 1-yard touchdown up the middle from LaSalle-Peru quarterback Tyler Hartman.
Leading 15-0 entering the fourth quarter, the Cavaliers forced Rochelle to punt before piecing together another scoring drive. Running back Sean Whitfield broke free off the right side, reaching the end zone from 21 yards away and putting LaSalle-Peru ahead 23-0 after Weber converted the 2-point play. After a turnover on downs from the Hubs, LaSalle-Peru iced the win with a 2-yard touchdown run from Carrico, who finished with a game-high 105 rushing yards.
Rochelle will face Kaneland on the road Saturday, April 3 at 1 p.m.