ROCHELLE — Despite having a size advantage on the line, LaSalle-Peru didn’t exactly dominate the Hubs on Friday night at Rochelle home opener.
But the visiting Cavaliers did manage to take the early lead and keep the Hubs off the scoreboard in posting an 11-0 win over the hosts.
“They had some bigger players, but our kids played hard and battled all night,” said Hub coach Kyle Kissack. “It was really just their initial drive that killed us.”
The Cavs had the opening possession of the night and on the very first play from scrimmage quarterback Tyler Hartman completed a 28-yard loft down the right sideline into Hub territory.
From that point on L-P ran the ball on nine consecutive plays, including seven runs by Hartman himself for a total of 29 yards. Hartman capped off the drive with a four-yard touchdown run to put the Cavs on scoreboard.
L-P planned to kick for the extra point, but an encroachment penalty on the Hubs moved the ball down to the 1-yard line and allowed Hartman the opportunity to instead run the ball in for a two-point conversion and an 8-0 lead just 3:16 into the game.
On Rochelle’s first possession, the Hubs struggled to move the ball on the ground, but a on third down and long Rochelle quarterback Ethan Etes was hit late on a passing play which drew a roughing the passer flag and gave the Hubs a first down.
Three plays later Etes hit Austin Greifenkamp on a 20-yard pass completion that moved the ball down to the L-P 37 and it appeared the Hubs were poised to put some points on the board. After two running plays garnered no yardage, Etes dropped back to pass on third down and 10 and was sacked for an 8-yard loss which led to a Rochelle punt.
With 3:03 left to go in the first quarter L-P took over and moved the ball across mid-field, but Rochelle’s defense tightened up and four plays later the Cavs punted the ball down to the Rochelle 19-yard line.
Hub running back Gavin Ansteth ripped off an 18-yard gain on the first play of the new possession, but two plays later Rochelle attempted a pass play and Etes was sacked and fumbled the ball away on the Hubs own 19-yard line.
On second down and eight yards to go at the Hubs’ 17-yard line, Nick Albers made a nice tackle behind the line of scrimmage for a big loss which stalled the Cavs and forced a field goal attempt. L-P’s Drake Weber had plenty of leg and kicked the ball straight through the uprights to put the Cavs up 11-0 with 7:16 to go in the half.
Rochelle took over at their own 20-yard line on the next series, but after one first down Etes was intercepted and the Cavs had the ball back on their own 43-yard line.
The Hubs’ defense kept the visitors in check on the next series and forced another punt, but from its own 27-yard line Rochelle was content to run the final 42 seconds off the clock and head into the locker rooms down 11-0.
After starting from their own 10-yard line, the Hubs took advantage of a roughing the kicker penalty on a punt that led to a first down and gave Rochelle some momentum.
Ben Harvey and Ansteth took turns with some nice runs as Rochelle drove from their own 31-yard line down to L-P’s 13-yard line taking up seven and a half minutes in 10 plays.
Unfortunately, another fumble on third down and eight ended Rochelle’s best scoring chance after L-P recovered at their own 13-yard line.
“We had some good drives tonight, but didn’t finish,” Kissack said. “Turnovers hurt us and we need to finish drives points.”
Rochelle had another opportunity to get on the scoreboard early in the fourth period after taking over near midfield and methodically moving the ball down to the L-P 20-yard line. However, three running plays garnered only three yards and on fourth down from the 17-yard line the Hubs’ Marco Castro attempted a 34-yard field goal that missed just short and wide left.
With just 5:17 left to play, the Cavs kept the ball on the ground, gaining three first downs and quickly running out the clock to end the game and preserve the 11-0 shutout over the Hubs, who fall to 1-3 on the season and 0-2 in conference play.
“I was proud of the effort the kids put in tonight,” Kissack said. “We knew we were going to be undersized, but we walked through the fire and battled all night.”
Rochelle’s had 147 total offensive yards on the night, including 119 rushing yards and 28 passing yards.
Ansteth led Rochelle with 75 yards on 22 attempts, while Harvey ran for 48 yards on nine attempts. Etes completed three of six passes for a total of 28 yards, including one interception.
Defensively, Nick Albers led Rochelle with eight tackles, while Harvey added six tackles and both Keegan Davis and Noah Messer recorded five tackles each. Gabe Neece had Rochelle’s only sack on the night and Rochelle did not force any turnovers.
Rochelle Owen Angell injured his foot on the second play of the game and didn’t return to action. Charlie Jandek suffered a foot injury last week and could not suit up for Friday’s game.
“We’ve caught a few bad breaks, but they aren’t excuses,” Kissack added. “We just will keep looking for ways to get better and come to play hard again next week.”