Rochester’s defense pitched a shutout for three and a half quarters and used the cushion its offense gave them to hold off R.A. Long for a 42-20 season-opening, non-league road victory Saturday in Longview.
Warriors’ senior tailback Talon Betts lit up the Lumberjacks for 250 total yards of offense and four total touchdowns, two receiving, one rushing and an 89-yard kick return to the house.
Rochester jumped out to a 27-0 lead on Betts’ touchdowns of 22, 12 and 31 yards, and quarterback Landon Hawes’ 14-yard touchdown pass to Erik Vasquez that finished off a 14-play, seven-plus minute drive for the Warriors.
But the Lumberjacks came alive, scoring back-to-back TDs to make it 27-12 with just over seven minutes to play in the fourth quarter.
“We got a little bit gassed and they started to find their rhythm,” Easley said.
With momentum shifting and the Warriors expecting an onside kick, R.A. Long booted it deep to the 10-yard line and Betts tracked it down, broke some tackles and found a hole to return it 89 yards to the house, halting the Lumberjacks’ momentum.
“I was joking with the coaches, saying ‘All we have to do is pull all our guys to make them kick it deep to Talon because most people know not to kick it to him,’” Easley said.
R.A. Long cut the lead back to 15 with a 25-yard fade pass to make it 35-20 with 6:35 remaining. Rochester ran the clock down and scored with two minutes remaining to put the game away for good.
Hawes also had a big night for the Warriors, finishing 7 of 12 passing for 116 yards and four touchdowns, and added seven carries for 50 yards on the ground. Only one of those rushes was a designed run. The other six were escaping the pocket, avoiding pressure and breaking free of the defense.
Betts finished with 14 carries for 154 yards on the ground. Sophomore back Tate Quarnstrom earned the tough yardage, rushing 16 times for 35 yards and six first downs.
“He did a good job pounding the inside when we needed it,” Easley said. “We used Talon as a decoy and it opened up some lanes.”
Easley also commended the offensive lines, which included three sophomores who were all seeing their first varsity action of their careers. They helped pave the way for the Warriors’ 239 total rushing yards. Rochester racked up 355 total yards of offense.
Rochester (1-0) hosts Class 1A Seton Catholic (1-0) at 7 p.m. Friday, a team coming off a win over Charles Wright Academy.
The Warriors will have reinforcements for that matchup after only suiting 29 players against R.A. Long. Easley expects to have 41 suited up this Friday.
“We’re getting some guys back that I’m assuming will make us better,” Easley said.