ROCHESTER — On an evening where the temperature dropped to a chilling 52 degrees at kickoff, Rochester High and Troy Athens brought the heat Oct. 4 at Rochester in a game that needed three overtimes to decide a winner.
In the end, Athens was able to edge the Falcons 44-38 to improve to 3-3 overall and 2-2 in the Oakland Activities Association White Division.
“This was unreal,” Athens coach Billy Keenist Jr. said. “It was a huge, huge step for our kids. It was a rollercoaster game and we had some things not go our way, but the kids just kept believing and I’m very happy for them.”
The hero of the game was Red Hawks running back Waides Ashmon. The junior scored five rushing touchdowns and one touchdown through the air to lead his team to victory.
In overtime, Ashmon caught a 19-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Mason Teeter and broke two runs of 10 yards.
During regulation, Ashmon scored on runs of 5, 1 and 4 yards. Keenist praised the effort of his workhorse back after the game.
“He’s a special player. He hasn’t even come close to his potential,” Keenist said. “He’s really taken a step forward this year.”
The coach noted that left tackle Kyle Spence, right tackle Nate Wooley and fullback AJ Rasa were standout players.
Ashmon had never scored six touchdowns in a game before and credited his offensive line for creating gaping holes in the defense all night long.
“I was just reading my blocks,” Ashmon said. “My offensive line did a great job and it led me to greatness.”
At the end of the third quarter, Rochester led 21-10. Falcons quarterback Peyton Youngblood had thrown three touchdown passes. On Rochester’s first play from scrimmage, Youngblood found Bobby Kronner wide open on a 30-yard touchdown pass.
From there, the senior found Kronner again on a 53-yard connection and concluded his trio of touchdowns with a 17-yard pass to Oreston Shroyer.
Down two scores heading into the final quarter of play, Keenist said his team showed a lot of fight en route to its comeback win.
“This year, the kids believed and they bought in,” he said. “The benefits of that hard work is paying off.”
In overtime, the Falcons received the ball first and Youngblood, avoiding a sack, found the end zone on a 4-yard run. Ryan Jackson added another score in the Falcons' second overtime possession.
Rochester had a chance to take the lead in triple overtime, but a 25-yard field goal attempt was blocked, which eventually led to the Red Hawks game-winning touchdown.
“Be a leader,” Ashmon said about how he deals with the emotions of a back-and-forth game. “You’ve got to encourage your teammates at all times. They’re the ones that have your back, you’ve got to have their back.”
With three wins now on the season, Athens needs to win out to reach the six wins needed for a playoff berth. Next up, the Red Hawks get Birmingham Seaholm at 7 p.m. Oct. 11 at home.
Rochester will look to bounce back from the loss at 7 p.m. Oct. 11 against Lake Orion High on the road.