Rochester rides run game to Class 4A quarterfinal win over Freeburg

Bill Welt
State Journal-Register
Rochester's Christian Creviston (26) is hoisted up by Rochester's Ian Lichtenberger (43) after scoring a touchdown against Freeburg in the second half during the Class 4A quarterfinal playoffs at Rocket Booster Stadium in Rochester, Ill., Saturday, November 13, 2021. [Justin L. Fowler/The State Journal-Register]

ROCHESTER — Rochester senior running back Christian Creviston patiently waited for his turn behind career rushing leader Jacob DuRocher.

He’s getting more touches now. 

Creviston yielded 11 carries for 135 yards and three touchdowns to spur top-seeded Rochester to a 57-28 Class 4A quarterfinal victory over No. 4 Freeburg at Rocket Booster Stadium on a chilly Saturday night.

“It’s definitely been nice after being behind DuRocher for the first three years,” Creviston said of being in the spotlight of the recent graduate. “It’s amazing, it’s a dream.” 

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The Rockets (11-1) next welcome Central State Eight Conference rival and No. 3 seed Sacred Heart-Griffin (11-1) again at 6 p.m. on Friday in the semifinal round. Rochester previously defeated the Cyclones 45-41 in Week 3. 

Creviston said it was hard not to think about SHG during the course of the playoffs. 

“You got to work week by week every week in the playoffs — and now, we’re here,” Creviston said. 

Rochester surges on the ground 

Rochester quarterback Hank Beatty (8) takes off on a touchdown run against Freeburg in the second half during the Class 4A quarterfinal playoffs at Rocket Booster Stadium in Rochester, Ill., Saturday, November 13, 2021. [Justin L. Fowler/The State Journal-Register]

Rochester totaled 395 rushing yards against Freeburg, which ended the season 9-3. 

Creviston, 5-foot-10 and 180 pounds, took his first carry 29 yards into the end zone for a quick 7-0 advantage. His 3-yard TD run in the second quarter reclaimed a 21-14 advantage. The Rockets led 28-14 by halftime. 

Rochester senior quarterback Hank Beatty led the way with 163 rushing yards and one TD on 11 carries. He additionally completed 9 of 13 passing attempts for 139 yards and three TDs with one interception while catching four passes for 39 yards. 

Beatty began the third quarter with a 51-yard TD run to extend the margin, 35-14. 

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“You can tell in practice Christian always wants to work hard and get better," Beatty said, "and whenever he gets his chance to play in the game, he always gives it his all, so it’s great to have him back there running 100% all of the time.  

“I’m sure he learned a lot behind Jacob, but Jacob was a beast.” 

What did Creviston learn from DuRocher? 

“Just run hard and do your best,” Creviston said. 

Rochester's rollercoaster start 

Rochester quarterback Hank Beatty (8) points to the sidelines as he sets up the offense for a play against Freeburg in the second half during the Class 4A quarterfinal playoffs at Rocket Booster Stadium in Rochester, Ill., Saturday, November 13, 2021. [Justin L. Fowler/The State Journal-Register]

Beatty’s 11-yard TD screen pass to Austin Adcock boosted the Rockets ahead 13-0 with 6 minutes, 19 seconds left in the first quarter.  

Freeburg responded and senior receiver Eli Hoerner capped off an 11-play drive with a 1-yard TD run to trail 13-7. Jase Brueggemann then forced and recovered a fumble on the ensuing kickoff.  

Senior quarterback Landon Funderburg capitalized with a 15-yard TD pass to Brett Holcomb to end the first quarter suddenly ahead 14-13.  

“We got up 13-0 and we thought, ‘Here we go again,’” Rochester coach Derek Leonard said. “But give Freeburg credit, they got a bunch of seniors, well-coached, they fought back and kicked our butt.” 

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Beatty orchestrated a 13-play drive to reclaim the lead. He later threw a 28-yard TD screen pass to Parker Gillespie for a 28-14 advantage with 7 minutes left in the second period. 

Gillespie had two catches for 39 yards and one TD. Ryan Robinson hauled in four receptions for 63 yards and one TD. 

“I think we came out a little slow and Freeburg came out swinging,” Beatty said. “We were not ready mentally. We had to really wake ourselves up. It’s a playoff game, we can’t take it for granted.” 

Freeburg makes historic run

Rochester's Parker Gillespie (24) goes in for the touchdown against Freeburg in the first half during the Class 4A quarterfinal playoffs at Rocket Booster Stadium in Rochester, Ill., Saturday, November 13, 2021. [Justin L. Fowler/The State Journal-Register]

Freeburg reached the quarterfinals for the first time since 1995. 

Senior quarterback Landon Funderburg went 23 of 43 for 245 yards and two TDs with one INT.  

“Just keeping their heads high,” Funderburg said of the first-quarter comeback. “We knew we could play with them and coming back is something we knew (that we could do). After that first touchdown, our special teams did something and we were able to capitalize off of it and took the lead for the first time. Wish we could’ve kept it, but it is what it is.” 

Hoerner hauled in nine catches for 96 yards and ran for two scores. Holcomb had four catches for 74 yards and two TDs. 

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Hoerner also intercepted a deep pass late in the second quarter. 

“He’s a guy you put him in any sport, he’s going to be great,” Funderburg said of Hoerner. “I love playing with him. I’ve played with him for a long time like most of these guys and being able to play these four years is amazing. 

“Special, that’s the only word I can use for it. Being able to come out here and make it to the Elite Eight, that’s something only one other team has done. It’s something I’ve been dreaming about and I’m glad I could do it.” 

Contact Bill Welt: bill.welt@sj-r.com, Twitter.com/BillWelt