Boys Varsity Football · Braves nip Rochester, 29-28, in OT with furious fourth quarter rally


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28 Rochester High School (Senior Night)
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29 Maconaquah High School
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Rochester High School (Senior Night) vs Maconaquah High School
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2 21   7
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The Maconaquah Braves got an early Halloween scare here Friday night as the winless Rochester Zebras took the Braves to the wire, losing 29-28 in overtime thanks to a
gallant fourth quarter comeback by the hosts.
The Braves won the toss to start overtime and elected to start on defense.
On first down, Landon Kelly ran in from 10 yards out. Kaleb Shaffer’s PAT kick
put the Zebras on top , 28-21.
With their backs to the wall, senior running back Jared Blake charged up the middle
on first down for a touchdown. The Braves came out in an unbalanced line for the conversion attempt and Blake took the direct snap from Cory Bockover. Blake followed
a host of Brave linemen to the goal line for the win.
The “Senior Night” triumph sends coach Brad Purcell’s Braves into Friday’s home Sectional 27 opener vs Northwestern with a 4-3 record. The Three Rivers Conference win also gave the Braves a 4-3 league mark. Rochester finished both regular season and TRC play with 0-7 records.
Rochester looked like anything but a winless team on this night as the Zebras jumped out to a quick 14-0 lead in the opening four minutes of play, scoring on their opening drive and then capitalizing on a Brave turnover on the ensuing kickoff for another TD.
Trailing 14-0, the Brave defense forced a punt with 3:42 left in the first quarter and Mac’s veteran backfield took over. Starting at the Rochester 47, it took only six plays and three minutes for the Braves to reach paydirt. With Carter Little doing most of the groundwork, the Braves moved to the 28 before the hosts used a little trickery. Little took a direct snap and connected with quarterback Nolan Kelly on a 28- yard TD pass.
Richie Leary’s PAT kick trimmed the Zebra lead to 14-7 with :45 on the clock.
Rochester’s Landon Kelly electrified the Zebra crowd with a 79-yard kickoff return for
a score on the ensuing kick and the Braves were suddenly staring at a 21-7 deficit with 33 ticks left in the half.
An 18-yard run by Little along with a Zebra late-hit moved the pigskin to the 39. Kelly then hit Little with a 39-yard touchdown pass that was called back and Rochester led 21-7 at intermission. Going into the game the Zebras had scored only four touchdowns in their first six games.
Rochester took the second half kickoff and drove deep into Brave territory, before the Mac defense put the hammer down. Stops by Matt Ingram, Jade Chadwell and Garrett Spohn keyed the defensive surge and the Braves got the ball back at their own 20 with 5:44 showing when the Zebras came up short on a fourth down.
Starting at the 20, the Braves moved downfield in a hurry with qb Kelly doing most of the damage. The slippery senior had runs of 29 and 17 yards before dashing in from 15 yards out with 1:48 left. Leary’s kick cut the lead to 21-14.
Mac forced a Zebra punt to start the wild fourth quarter. Starting at the Rochester 46, the Braves ran five plays before Little bolted in the from the five with 8:57 to go. Leary’s perfect boot knotted things at 21-all.
Looking for their first win of the year, the Zebras took the ensuing kick and methodically moved downfield into the Braves redzone, converting a pair of third-down plays during the seven minute drive. Mac’s defense rose to the occasion at the 16 when Kelly was stopped inches short on a big fourth down attempt.
Taking over at their own 16 with 1:42 left in regulation, the Braves marched to midfield before Kelly found a wide-open Brayden Betzner over the middle with a nice 44-yard strike. With only 11 ticks remaining, the Braves settled for a 29-yard field goal attempt
to win the game. Leary’s boot was wide to the left, setting up the overtime session.
Little led the balanced rushing attack with 131 yards on 27 carries. Kelly got all of his 83 yards on eight second-half carries, while Blake added 78 on 14 attempts. Blake became the sixth player in school history to rush for over 2000 yards. He now has 2044 yards in his stellar four-year career.
Ingram led Brave tacklers with 13 stops. Blake was credited with 9 tackles, while Chadwell (8), Kelly (7) and Spohn (7) added backup support on the defensive side of the ball.
Maconaquah’s talented senior class has now chalked up 22 wins the past four years, making it the third-winningest class in MHS history. Only the 1975 and 1980 Brave teams have more wins as both teams chalked up 25 wins.