BREESE — It wasn't a conscious decision to leave the game, but coach Jim Stiebel didn't have to stick around to watch the end of Mater Dei's 56-28 loss to Rochester in a Class 4A second-round playoff game Saturday.
Flagged with an unsportsmanlike penalty in the fourth quarter, he was ejected.
His players stuck around, with the Knights' starters putting up final statistics against Rochester's second unit, making Mater Dei's offensive yardage seem respectable at the end.
The stats will belie how difficult it was for the Knights (7-4) to have any sort of success moving the ball on the Rockets when it mattered.
Rochester (10-1) took a 35-0 lead and led 42-6 at halftime, turning on the running clock midway through the third quarter.
But Stiebel did say if his team can accomplish its ultimate goal, the Knights had an intimate view of how to achieve that in the team on the opposing sideline, winners of the last three Class 4A state championships.
"There is a reason they are going for four straight. They've got the athletes and they've got the know-how," Stiebel said. "We were just happy to be in this situation to play them and now we've got to make improvements for next year so we can beat a team like that."
Rochester (10-1) will host Althoff next week. The Crusaders (7-4) beat Herrin 21-14 on Saturday to advance to the third round.
It was a tough day for Mater Dei quarterback Sam Toennies, who spent much of the game trying to avoid Rochester's pass rush.
"We didn't establish our running game like we wanted to, but three minutes in and we're down two touchdowns -- that pretty much blows your running game out of the water," Stiebel said.
Toennies was thrown for negative 72 yards on the day on 11 carries, trying to scramble away from Rochester's 6-foot-7 defensive end Matt Swaine.
"I thought our defense did a great job making them one-dimensional," Rochester coach Derek Leonard said.
Once the Rockets hit the 40-point plateau on a 9-yard run by Evan Sembell with 7 minutes 36 seconds left in the third quarter, Rochester pulled its starters.
Mater Dei didn't and took advantage of that as Toennies finished with 266 yards on 15 of 18 passing, throwing four touchdowns in the process.
"We have notoriously bad (starts)," Stiebel said. "It was frustrating as a coach, but that's what Rochester does is score points in bunches.
Jordan Ratermann had 71 yards on 15 carries and caught four passes for 20 yards.
Toennies found Nick Hitpas five times for 122 yards and two touchdowns. Ben Lampe also scored twice on five receptions, finishing with 120 yards receiving.