ROCHELLE – Sterling hung tough with state-ranked Rochelle for the bulk of the first half. But, two Hub touchdowns in the last 2 minutes, 17 seconds of the half was the beginning of the end.
Rochelle’s late first-half flurry paved the way to the Hubs’ 58-21 win in the NIB-12 crossover clash Friday night at Creason Athletic Complex.
“Our defense was doing fine, but we didn’t do our job in the second quarter,” said Sterling quarterback Bryant Lilly, who rushed for 62 yards but passed for just 5. “That’s when everything started going downhill. We can’t worry about what they’re doing. We need to worry about what we’re doing. Right now, we don’t know what we’re doing.”
Trailing 6-0, the Warriors (2-2) were right there despite not mounting any offense – one first down and 24 yards – in the first half.
Rochelle (4-0) took control with a 62-yard touchdown drive, capped by a 9-yard pass from Angel Burciaga to Adam Ricketts. The Hubs failed for the second time on a two-point conversion, but led 12-0 with 2:17 left in the half.
After a quick Sterling three-and-out, Rochelle got the ball back at its own 34 with 59 seconds on the clock. Burciaga passes of 34 and 27 yards set up his 8-yard TD pass to Keegan Akers as time expired. Another failed conversion made it 18-0 at the half.
“On ‘D,’ we were holding them, but we were making little mistakes that kept building up,” said the Warriors’ Draque Penaflor-Heier, who rushed for 97 yards and a touchdown. “After that, it felt like we started to give up.”
“We needed some stops, and we didn’t get them there,” Sterling coach Jon Schlemmer said. “They’re good at what they do, and tonight, they were better than us.”
The Hubs put the game away with two more touchdowns on their first two possessions of the second half, making it 31-0. Evan White, who rushed for 219 yards, scored the second of his three TDs on a 37-yard jaunt. Burciaga and Akers then connected for a 29-yard TD on fourth-and-6.
Sterling got on the scoreboard for the first time with a 65-yard, third-quarter drive. Brandon Dennis kick-started it with a 32-yard run. He also capped it with an 11-yard scamper as the Warriors made it 31-7 with 4:21 left in the third.
The teams went back and forth from there. Sterling’s other TDs came on a 60-yard run by Penaflor-Heier and a 2-yarder by Dennis, who rushed for 59 yards and two TDs.
The Warriors were without standout receiver Logan Wharff, who Schlemmer said was out due to a team violation. Schlemmer did not say how long Wharff would be out.
Rochelle’s Marquez Felix rushed for 138 yards. The Hubs rushed for 520 yards.