SOUTH WHITLEY – Not much went right for the Whitko Wildcats in a 35-6 loss to Rochester Friday night. The Wildcats showed fight in the first quarter, but a rough second quarter and half dropped the team’s record to 0-3 in the early season.

After a scoreless first quarter that had both teams playing good defense, it looked like the game might be closer than predicted. On the second play of the game, senior running back Ethan Gilbert used a 30-yard-run to get the ball into Zebra territory. The offense stalled from there, and turned the ball over on downs on the next series.

The defense backed their offense up though, and forced Rochester to punt. A little later in the quarter, the defense forced a fumble, setting Whitko up at the Rochester 42.  But an ensuing three-and-out kept a zero in the Wildcat score column.

Both teams went scoreless in the first quarter, but Rochester made its move early in the second. With a little over eight minutes to go in the half, Rochester sophomore running back Alex Deming broke through the Whitko line and scored a 76-yard touchdown.

On the first play of the ensuing drive, the Wildcats fumbled, giving the Zebras the ball deep in Whitko territory. A few plays later, Deming struck again, this time a 23-yard score to make it 14-0 in the blink of an eye.

“It was a good ballgame until they scored those two touchdowns,” Whitko head coach Chip Coldiron said. “We kind of broke down mentally. We sunk our heads and stopped doing what we’re coached to do. It was mental over anything physical or Xs and Os at that point.”

Deming finished the first half with three touchdowns and 232 yards as Rochester took a 21-0 lead into the locker room. Whitko had just 39 yards of offense at halftime.

“We stress it every week, and we’ll continue to stress it, you can’t look at the scoreboard,” Coldiron said. “You gotta play every play, whether you’re up a hundred or down a hundred.”

It was more of the same in the second half. The Zebras opened up the 3rd quarter with a 68-yard drive that resulted in a touchdown. The team would add another one before the end of the period. To add insult to injury, the Wildcats leading rusher Tyler Veach was injured and had to lead the game. He finished with just seven yards rushing, as well as seven yards receiving.

With a 35-0 score and the clock running going into the 4th quarter, both teams just went through the motions. Whitko was able to manage it’s lone touchdown with just 12 seconds left, a six-yard run by senior quarterback Slater Craig. Craig finished the game 2-6 for 13 yards.

“They fought. They didn’t give up. I thought the sidelines were very positive and we had some young guys step up and play. We’re getting better in increments,” Coldiron said.

Whitko will look to get into the win column Friday at Maconaquah.