|Staff photo by Tom Kelly IV/ Rustin's Adam Burke catches a pass and runs for a touchdown during Friday's victory over Great Valley.|
MALVERN – In order to be the best, you’ve got to beat the best.
That is the philosophy Great Valley has subscribed to since head coach Mike Choi took over the program just three years ago. Unfortunately for the Pats, the best got the better of them, 33-21, on a cool evening at Valley Stadium.
West Chester Rustin, the perennial measuring stick in the Ches-Mont American division, utilized its trademark smash-mouth running game to jump out to a big lead and then weathered the storm defensively to notch a key American Division victory. The Golden Knights (2-1 league, 5-1 overall) survived to take on their crosstown rival, West Chester Henderson, in a Ches-Mont crossover game.
“Steve (Mitten) does a great job over there,” said Rustin head coach Mike St. Clair. “And every time we buckle it up against those guys, it’s a battle. We’re looking forward to a great game next Friday night, and may the best team win.”
For Great Valley (2-1, 4-2), hope is still alive for a share of the league title if it can string together wins against the likes of Kennett, Unionville, and upstart Sun Valley.
“This isn’t over yet,” said Choi. “We need to take care of business through the rest of the schedule, which isn’t going to be an easy thing. The one I know about our kids, is we’re going to come out and work hard.”
That hard work was evident early in the game, as quarterback Chris Geiss flashed the skill set that is making him a highly sought-after college prospect. The senior faked the dive, pulled the ball out of the fullback’s belly, and took off around right end. As he got to the hole, he made one man miss, and was off to the races. He zigged and zagged through the Knights’ secondary, and 76 yards later hit paydirt for a 7-0 Pats lead.
Rustin wasted no time answering. Just one minute later, senior tailback Adam Burke took a carry 38 yards off right tackle and into the end zone, tying the game. Two possessions later, Burke again scored, this time from three yards out on a counter left. The Knights took a 13-7 advantage into the locker room.
After the break, Burke went right back to work, this time hauling in a pass from junior quarterback Dave Fithian for a 53-yard catch-and-run. On the play, Fithian sucked in the Pats’ defense with a play-action fake and hit Burke in stride down the right sideline, who snuck out of the backfield on a wheel route. The score gave the visitors a 20-7 lead just two minutes into the second half.
Knights senior Matt Lamberjack then applied what at the time appeared to be the coup de grâce with just 1:42 remaining in the third quarter. The bruising fullback got the ball on a simple dive play, got past the first wave of defenders, and turned on the jets for a 58-yard touchdown that put Rustin in front 26-7.
But the Pats refused to fold. They instead mounted a 12-play drive that culminated in Geiss taking a quarterback draw eight yards for a crucial score that pulled his team within 26-14. Two plays into the ensuing drive, senior defensive back Max Burgess stepped in front of a Rustin pass at the Pats 27-yard line to give possession back to the offense.
Things looked bleak for Great Valley when Geiss was forced to exit the game with an injury just a few plays later. Reserve quarterback Sean Fitzpatrick entered the game facing a third-and-16. The sophomore maintained his poise and exploded 60 yards on keeper down to the Knights 17. Geiss came back and six plays later, rolled left and connected with senior tight end Tim Lamb in the back of the end zone for a nine-yard touchdown to make the score 26-21 with 4:16 to go in the game. On the evening, the quarterback accounted for 175 total yards and three touchdowns.
The Pats never saw the football again, as Rustin continued to hammer away with the running game. Burke, who tallied 134 yards, punched in his fourth score of the night on a five-yard burst up the middle with 17 seconds remaining. Despite pinning the Knights back at their own seven-yard line, Great Valley was unable to force a punt, as Lamberjack ripped off a 73-yard run. He finished with 149 yards and a score on just six carries.
“Huge win,” said St. Clair. “The Great Valley kids, they’re big, they’re strong, they’re physical, and they’re well-coached. We made a couple plays, busted a couple big runs, and we’re lucky enough to get out of here with a win.”
W.C. Rustin 33, Great Valley 21
Bayard Rustin 0 13 13 7 - 33
Great Valley 0 7 0 14 - 21
GV – Geiss 76 run (Cavanagh kick)
BR – Burke 38 run (Jenkins kick)
BR – Burke 3 run (kick blocked)
BR – Burke 53 pass from Fithian (Jenkins kick)
BR – Lamberjack 58 run (pass failed)
GV – Geiss 8 run (Cavanagh kick)
GV – Lamb 9 pass from Geiss (Cavanagh kick)
BR – Burke 5 run (Jenkins kick)
First downs 10 12
Yards rushing 282 297
Yards passing 101 29
Total yards 383 326
Passing 4-7-1 3-8-0
Fumbles-Lost 1-1 1-0
Penalties 3-35 5-35
Punts-Avg. 1-39.0 3-35.3
RUSHING – BR: Burke 18-81, 3 TD; Pernsley 8-22; Lamberjack 6-149, TD; Muliawan 3-12; Fithian 2-10; Peterson 2-8. GV: Geiss 29-146, 2 TD; Ames 10-55; Temple 4-15; Johnson 3-12; Burgess 3-9; Fitzpatrick 1-60.
PASSING – BR: Fithian 4-7, 101, TD, INT. GV: Geiss 3-8, 29, TD.
RECEIVING – BR: Burke 1-53, TD; Hosking 1-24; Pernsley 1-14; Walls 1-10. GV: Johnson 1-14; Lamb 1-9, TD; Glod-Day 1-6.
SACKS – BR: Dunion, Steinmetz. GV: none.
INTERCEPTIONS – BR: none. GV: Burgess.