FOOTBALL: Rochester chews up Utica

| August 29, 2013 | Comments (0)



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UTICA — For decades, Rochester and Utica were rivals to say the least.

The only two large schools in a once rural area, the Falcons and chieftains built that began back in the 1910s and ran into the 1970s.

Conference shifts eventually broke up the marriage, as Rochester ventured into Oakland County-dominated leagues and Utica Macomb County-leaning leagues by the mid-70s and the two schools, less than 10 miles apart, played sparingly in sports up until recent years.

The have renewed their acquaintances in recent years and the two neighboring schools met on the gridiron for the second straight season Thursday, and Rochester gained the upper hand once again with a solid 28-14 victory over the Chieftains. The Falcons are 15-8 against Utica since 1954.NOSsRochvUtica2

Rochester used its experience and size on the lines to rough up Utica, 28-14, in a non-league season opener at Utica’s Barney Swinehart Stadium.

“We did a lot of nice things,” admitted Rochester coach Erik Vernon. “We have some work to do, but we beat a good team. Utica is a lot better than last season and I think they will win some games. But it’s always nice to get a win in the first week. The important thing, now for us, is to see how much we can improve from Week 1 to Week 2.”

Rochester (1-0) defeated Utica 38-7 last season and this time never trailed the Chieftains. This time the Falcons built a 14-0 lead in the second quarter and managed the clock throughout most of the contest.

The Falcons’ Kevin Byrd, a 6-foot-4 senior quarterback who did not play football last season after transferring over from West Bloomfield, directed Rochester’s offense, finishing 10-for-13 passing for 178 yards and two touchdown passes. Senior Tyler Carten rushed for a career-best 104 yards on 18 carries, junior Blake Fetterhoff rushed 16 times for 70 yards and senior Demetrius Magee caught six passes, including two TD strikes from Byrd, and finished with a career-high 134 receiving yards.

“Kevin is going to surprise some people. We have great chemistry on the field. He’s my homeboy,” smiled Magee. “Our senior class wants to surprise some people. We just go out there every day and do what the coaches tell us to do and it worked tonight.”

The Falcons drew first blood on their second series, starting at the Utica 46 and going eight plays before reaching the end zone. Carten, a third-string running back last season, scored on a 1-yard scamper with 1:16 left in the second quarter.

Fetterhoff added to the Falcons’ advantage with 7:47 left in the second quarter when he rushed 13 yards untouched down the left side for a 14-0 lead.

Utica could never dig itself out of a hole, although the Chieftains did cut into the deficit before halftime.

“Rochester just ran it down our throats. Erik does a nice job with that team and they had a game plan and stuck with it,” offered Utica coach Anthony Smith. “They were just more physical than us. They returned their whole offensive line and their returning skilled athletes are very good. We don’t want to make excuses, but we started four new guys on the line against their experience. Rochester is a good football team.”

Utica finally got untracked by going to the air. Senior quarterback Jack Flater, who finished the night 17-for-31 for 187 yards, two touchdown passes and two interceptions, hooked up with senior Austin Jakubik for an 18-yard touchdown pass with 5:58 left in the first half.

The Chieftains again drove into Rochester territory late in the second quarter, but the Falcons’ Jacob White blocked a 43-yard field goal as time expired.

Rochester pushed the lead back up to 14 points with 8:36 left in the third quarter, this time on an eight-play drive that spanned 74 yards. The series was capped by Magee hauling in a 32-yard strike from Byrd.

The Falcons scored again for a 28-7 lead with 11:42 remaining in the fourth quarter, this time with the Byrd-to-Magee connection lighting up the scoreboard on a 63-yard bomb pass for seven more points.

Utica did not go away quietly. The Chieftains ‘  Mitchell Von Zittwitz recovered a fumble on the Rochester eight and on fourth down, Flater hooked up with senior Sam Goepper with a 7-yard scoring toss on fourth down with 6:18 left in the contest.

Utica recovered the onside kick but could never further dent into the Falcons’ lead.

“Last year we didn’t finish the season and we didn’t always finish games,” reminded Vernon, whose team finished 5-4 after losing their final two games. “I thought we did a nice job holding them off in the last few minutes.”

Rochester sacked Flater five times on the night. The Falcons also forced three turnovers and never allowed Utica to cross the 50 yard line until midway through the second quarter.

Goepper had 11 catches for 121 yards, including six catches in the Chieftains first scoring drive.

Rochester outgained Utica 360-157, holding the Chieftains to minus-30 yards rushing.

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