The Rock Creek Lions victory tonight marks the first home game of their season – and the team’s first win in nearly two years.
By Leah Lowe for Indiana Preps | @LoweMediaCo
Sellersburg, IN (Sept. 3rd 2021) – The Rock Creek Academy Lions held on to defeat Indiana School for the Deaf tonight in their first home game of the season with a 28-26 nail-biter victory – the school’s first win in nearly two years. The win puts an 11-game losing streak to bed for the Lions, bringing the team to 1-1 for the season following the first-ever matchup between the two schools.
The two teams turned possession over on downs early in the first quarter until a Rock Creek error cost the team a safety, putting the Orioles on the board first. ISD caught the ball on their 45 and worked their way upfield in a series of downs, scoring their first touchdown with a 29-yard pass by Jayden Defalco to Dylan Pruett, followed by a successful two point conversion via pass to Tyler Wascher to bring the scoreboard to 10-0.
A kickoff touchback put the Lions at their own 20 with less than a minute left in the first quarter, when Senior RB Kendrick Payton broke away for a 72-yard run to the endzone. The two point conversion was successful, bringing the score to 10-8. Rock Creek then recovered their onside kick at the 40.
Peyton went on to score again with 6:22 left in the second quarter followed by a failed two-point conversion, putting the Lions ahead 14-6. The Orioles answered in a couple of plays with a 20 yard pass to Wascher, two points converted, putting them ahead 14-10.
A return by Rock Creek’s Chris Graham brought the Lions to the 50 yard line where they worked their way to another first down, but a QB sack by Wascher followed by a 6-yard loss on a running play and an injured Lion led to a turnover on downs.
ISD took possession at the 42, but their run was short-lived as a pass interception by Rock Creek’s Kendrick Payton put the Lions back in possession of the ball in time for them to get out an unsuccessful run for it just before the half.
The teams battled back and forth in the 3rd quarter, until a 14-yard touchdown run by RC’s Chris Graham and a successful two-point conversion brought the score to 22-18.
With just over 10 minutes of play left in the 4th quarter, ISD’s Zachary Bippus completed a 16 yard pass to Washcher for another touchdown, followed by a Bippus rush for successful conversion, putting the Orioles ahead 26-22.
Rock Creek was unsuccessful in answering and punted, putting ISD back in possession on the Lion’s 45 yard line with less just over 6 minutes to go. The Orioles inched their way to another first down, but the Lions’ defense held out, leaving ISD a few plays later back at 4th and punting from their 45.
The Lions took it at ISD’s 30 yard line with less than two minutes to play, they pushed forward ultimately sending QB Seth Sleepe to the end zone for a touchdown, followed by an unsuccessful two-point conversion – putting the Lions ahead 28-26 with 27 seconds left on the clock. The Orioles were unable to answer before the clock ran out, resulting in a Rock Creek Victory.
Sophomore Seth Sleepe was at the helm for the Lions tonight, the team leaning heavily on their running game. Sleepe moved the ball well for the Lions all evening, and ultimately shored up their victory with his run to the end zone in the final moments of the game.
Sleepe said turning the ball over on downs, and a handful of mistakes in the first quarter left his team beginning to feel the creep of dread, but they remained composed.
“My teammates are my brothers and I knew we had it in us,” Sleepe said. “We are all inspired to get back to work and we’re extremely happy to have held on and turned the game around. This was my first varsity football win and I have faith that there will be many more to come.”
Senior Kendrick Payton echoed Sleepe’s sentiments. “We’re really coming along in terms of playing as a team. We never gave up, we had each other till the end and I’m proud of these guys.”
Peyton led the team on both sides of the field – the running back and middle linebacker had 12 tackles, two QB sacks, two interceptions, 145 yards rushing on 16 attempts, two touchdowns, and a two-point conversion.
Junior Chris Graham ran for 36 yards on 6 carries, put a TD on the board for the Lions, and contributed 6 tackles on defense.
Rock Creek Head Coach Josh Caldwell says he’s relieved to have the first win under their belts.
“Indiana Deaf played extremely hard and didn’t make it easy on us at all. Seth came in at quarterback and did some things we needed him to do, Peyton and Graham were solid all night,” Caldwell said. “Freshman Dylan Parente stepped up for us and had some good yardage on offense.”
Lions Offensive Coordinator Jordan Zweydorff said his team is already talking about getting back to work on Tuesday.
“Our guys dug in and battled it out until the end. That’s all you can ask for out of your guys, and I’m proud of how far this group has come and their growth so far this season.”
Rock Creek hosts Crawford County next Friday at home. Crawford lost 51-0 to Perry Central tonight and has a 1-1 record for the season. Indiana School for the Deaf moves to 1-2, and will play the Alabama School for the Deaf of Talladega on the road next Saturday.