RICHMOND — A strong defensive start wasn’t enough for the Rochelle Hub varsity football team to overcome an unbeaten Richmond-Burton squad on the road Friday evening.
Rochelle limited the Rockets to only six points in the first quarter, but the Hubs were unable to hold Richmond-Burton down, falling 34-7 and moving to 1-2 on the season. Junior Garrett Gensler led the Rochelle offense on Friday, carrying the ball 11 times for 71 yards and one touchdown, the first points allowed by the Class 4A No. 3-ranked Rockets all season. Junior Landon DeLille ran for 61 yards, while senior Tanner Lager totaled four receptions for 49 yards.
“I thought there were a lot of good things to take away from tonight’s game,” head coach Kyle Kissack said. “We played a really good football team and both sides were really physical. We had some self-inflicted wounds that we have to clean up if we want to be successful. I don’t think that’s a secret to our kids, and those are factors that we can totally control.”
Richmond-Burton struck first, surging ahead 6-0 on running back Brock Wood’s 1-yard rushing touchdown early in the opening quarter. Both defenses stepped up throughout the first half, with the Rockets and Hubs going scoreless until late in the second quarter, when Wood scored Richmond-Burton’s second touchdown of the game on a 2-yard run. Rocket linebacker Zachary Smith then intercepted Rochelle quarterback Josh Lloyd to force the Hub offense off the field.
“Our kids were physical and we talked before the game about how we need to be good tacklers in space,” Kissack said. “I thought we did that tonight. We gave up a couple of long runs, but I thought our kids accepted the challenge of being good, down-hill tacklers tonight.”
The interception resulted in a 3-yard rushing touchdown from Steven Siegel that helped Richmond-Burton take a 21-0 lead over Rochelle at halftime. The Hubs opened the second half with a fast start on offense, scoring on a 12-yard touchdown run from Gensler to avoid the shutout. The Rockets responded immediately, however, with Wood breaking free down the middle for a 56-yard touchdown run that capped off a 149-yard, three-touchdown night.
“We need to win more first downs on offense,” Kissack said. “We need to be in more second-and-6 situations rather than second-and-10 or third-and-10. If we do that, there are opportunities for us to make plays across the board. We need to finish our blocks and our backs need to continue running hard. We’ll have a new challenge in Johnsburg next week.”
Richmond-Burton intercepted a second Lloyd pass late in the third quarter, with Toby Quentrall-Quezada snagging the ball near the Rochelle sideline. The turnover ultimately led to Siegel’s 1-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter that sealed the Richmond-Burton victory. The Hub defense forced its first turnover of its own late in the fourth quarter, when Lager punched the ball free and senior Bryton DiSimoni recovered the fumble for the Hubs.
Junior Cody Stover-Cullum led Rochelle with 10 tackles, while Lloyd finished with six tackles and Gensler recorded five tackles. The Hubs will host Johnsburg next Friday at 7 p.m.
The Rochelle Hub fresh-soph football team fell 30-14 against Richmond-Burton on Friday to move to 2-1 on the season. Freshman Carson Lewis threw two touchdown passes to freshman Jack Pavlak, while freshman Erich Metzger led the Rochelle defense with 10 tackles in the loss.