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DECATUR — MacArthur's defense held the high-powered Rochester offense in check in the first half Friday of its Central State 8 matchup.

The Generals allowed just nine points to the defending Class 4A state champion Rockets, who had been averaging 41 points this season.  

But Rochester wore the defense down and MacArthur's offense was shut out in the second half, leading to a 22-14 win for the Rockets.

First quarter action saw the teams trade possessions and MacArthur's defense forced a turnover on downs with the Rockets at the Generals' 24 yard line. 

The Rockets also recovered a MacArthur incomplete pass, which the officials ruled to be a lateral pass and fumble.

Neither team could take advantage of the other's miscues, and the first quarter remained scoreless. 

Zach Gleeson put the Rockets on the board with eight minutes left in the second quarter with a 3-yard touchdown to give Rochester the  6-0 lead. 

On the very next offensive play for the Generals, Derrick Taylor broke through the Rockets' line and ran 63 yards for the touchdown.

Taylor credited his offensive line for that run.

"That was just my blockers, my offensive line, they carried through with their blocks and let me do what I could do in the backfield," he said. 

Taylor later added a 45-yard run to set up MacArthur's second score of the quarter, grabbing the attention of MacArthur coach Derek Spates.  

"We think we have enough guys that we can run around and find out who has the hot hand, and that's what we did tonight. We found out that (Derrick) can do some explosive runs on those guys," he said. 

Taylor finished with 116 yards on the ground. 

It was Deyon Jackson connecting on a 24-yard touchdown pass to Jacoby Cunningham that put the Generals up 14-6. A Rochester field goal put it at 14-9 going into halftime. 

MacArthur's defense held the Rockets scoreless nearly the entire third quarter until Rochester quarterback Clay Bruno connected on a 75-yard bomb to Cade Eddington with a minute left in the quarter. 

Rochester took the lead 15-14 and that would prove to be enough. MacArthur's offense could never get a sustained drive going in the fourth quarter. 

The Generals' defense never quit, though, continuing to force turnovers on downs until the very end. MacArthur stopped the Rockets (4-0) on fourth down four times over the course of the game. 

Rochester coach Derek Leonard said he was impressed with the Generals' defense. 

"(MacArthur) is a really good team and really well coached. Coach Spates is an awesome guy, an awesome coach and he gets them ready to play every time we come here," Leonard said. "They flat-out came out and hit us and we didn't not respond well in the first half."

After Rochester's final score on a quarterback keeper from Bruno, MacArthur remained within one score and had the ball with 5:25 left, but the offense went three-and-out. 

In defeat, the Generals (3-1) never blinked against the state champs. 

"I liked the way we flew around to the football," Spates said. "We rose to the challenge to play the state's No. 1 team in 4A and I don't think we flinched. It was a back and forth football game until the very end."

MacArthur's players will take away a lot from the loss. 

"We didn't hang our heads and we played a good game. We played as a team and kept our heads in the game," Taylor said. 

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Contact Matthew Flaten at (217) 421-6968. Follow him on Twitter: @MattFlaten

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Reporter

Reporter for Lee Enterprises Central Illinois.

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