What to know from Rochester's Class 4A first-round playoff win over Cahokia
ROCHESTER — Rochester’s defense never allowed Cahokia to generate any momentum.
Rochester defensive end Grant Wisecup wrangled Cahokia’s Isaiah Sanders for a loss on the game’s opening play from the line of scrimmage.
The 6-foot-4, 215-pound junior followed with a sack two plays later en route to a 48-0 victory over Cahokia in the first round of the Class 4A playoffs at Rocket Booster Stadium on Saturday.
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The top-seeded Rockets (9-1) will play the winner between No. 9 Paris and No. 8 Mount Zion in the second round.
“We just wanted to come out strong and hit them in the mouth and let them know they’re in our house,” Wisecup said. “We just wanted to punch them to start off.”
Rochester got great field position
No. 16 Cahokia (5-5) dropped back 11 yards to its own 4 following Wisecup’s sack on third-and-18.
The Rockets needed just three plays to reach the end zone after starting on the Cahokia 27, scoring on senior quarterback Hank Beatty’s 16-yard keeper with 8 minutes, 49 seconds left in the first quarter.
“We came out real strong and definitely set the tone for the offense,” senior corner back Jack Teeter said. “We both just feed off of each other all of the time. It definitely helps.”
Teeter recovered a fumble late in the second quarter and Beatty capitalized again with a 40-yard TD run to lead 26-0 at halftime.
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Rochester forced three turnovers in the win.
“Our coaches are definitely always happy when we turn the ball over or just give them the ball back with good field position,” Teeter said. “That’s always the goal.”
Do they get any special prize like a turnover chain?
“We don’t have that, but that would be a great idea I think,” Teeter said.
The Rockets nearly had double as many first downs as Cahokia in the first half by a 13-7 margin.
“At the beginning of the season we had a lot of flaws that were exposed, mostly when we played Loyola and SHG,” Teeter said, referring to a 56-7 loss to 8A No. 1 seed Loyola Academy in Week 2 and 45-41 win over rival Sacred Heart-Griffin in Week 3. “We’ve really worked to fix those over the weeks and the last weeks we’ve definitely come together.”
Cahokia totaled just 32 rushing yards on 25 attempts. Junior quarterback Omarion Gooden completed 11 of 17 passing attempts for 104 yards.
“We were mainly game planning because we knew with how muddy it was, it was going to be run game,” Wisecup said. “We just wanted to be able to pound the football and stop their run. That was the main thing.”
Rochester mixed things up
Beatty, who is committed to University of Illinois as a wide receiver, ran for 91 yards and two TDs.
He also completed 7 of 11 passing attempts for 101 yards and one TD while catching two passes himself for 32 yards from junior quarterback/utility player Keeton Reiss.
Reiss was a constant presence offensively and defensively Saturday. He also ran for 44 yards and a TD.
“They’ve got me playing both sides of the ball and last week I was playing running back quite a bit and this week I’m still playing running back,” said Reiss, who also does kickoffs. “I’m doing both right now, but I like it. It’s fun and I’m enjoying it.
“Whenever Hank’s the receiver, he’s wide open or they double team him and leave someone else open. When you put Hank out there, stuff is going to happen. You just got to read the defense and make the play.”
Cahokia got caught
Self-inflicted miscues foiled Cahokia’s chances. Beatty’s hard count frequently got the defense to encroach.
Cahokia had 10 penalties in the first half and finished with 16 for 94 yards.
The loss upended its turbulent season. Cahokia started the season 0-3. It also chalked up a forfeit loss in Week 5 to fall to 1-4 but later picked up two forfeit wins.
“We definitely did not take them lightly,” Teeter said of Cahokia. “They’re a very good 16 seed. I think we played a great game. They’re not a bad team at all.”
Contact Bill Welt: email@example.com, Twitter.com/BillWelt