|Staff photo by Tom Kelly IV/ Rustin's Terry Loper rushed for 133 yards and 3 touchdowns in Friday night's 41-0 victory over Octorara.|
By ANDY EDWARDS
WESTTOWN – West Chester Rustin entered Friday’s game against Octorara firmly entrenched in the District 1 Class AAAA playoff picture but wanting more, still alive for a share of the Ches-Mont American Division crown.
With a win Friday and a Kennett victory over Unionville this afternoon, the Golden Knights would share the league title with the Indians and Blue Demons. As it stands, Rustin still needs help from Kennett. The Knights certainly didn’t need any to hold up their end of the bargain.
Terry Loper rushed for 133 yards and three scores, Adam Burke scored his 21st touchdown of the season, and the Golden Knights (5-1, 8-2) ended the regular season on a high note with a 41-0 pasting of the undermanned Braves (0-6, 1-9) under the lights at Rustin. Burke rushed for 81 yards on eight carries on Senior Night, while Michael Pernsley and Evan Peterson added touchdown runs of their own as Rustin racked up 394 yards on the ground a week removed from a potential showdown with Coatesville in the first round of the district playoffs.
“I was concerned with Octorara’s speed,” said Rustin head coach Mike St. Clair, who watched his defense shut out a Braves squad that put up 410 yards and 30 points against division-leading Unionville the previous week. “They probably have a couple of the best athletes on the field. We were able to contain them and drive the ball pretty good on offense. We’re just hoping that Kennett wins tomorrow and we get a share of the championship. Wherever we fall in the playoffs, we fall.
“Our main objective is to get a piece of that championship. That’s what we’re looking forward to. The playoffs are gravy after that.”
Loper, who has 454 yards and five touchdowns in his last three games, scored on runs of 26, 21, and 14 yards in a first half that saw the Golden Knights ground up Octorara’s defense to the tune of 251 yards. His third score came with just over a second remaining in the first half, giving Rustin a 34-0 lead. The extra point was wide right, however, temporarily delaying the running clock. No matter. Peterson rumbled in from 18 yards out to make it 41-0 midway through the third quarter and hasten a merciful end to a game that got away from the Braves quickly.
“I was hitting the holes, and they were open for me- wide open,” Loper said. “I hit the seams, got to the next level, and used as much speed as I could to get into the end zone. That’s what my team needed me to do.”
Octorara quarterback Alex Gooden, who last week became the first player in school history to rush for over 1,000 yards, turned in a herculean effort for Octorara, but the Braves, with a roster barely half the size of Rustin’s, were in over their heads from the start. The sophomore tallied 52 yards on the ground and completed seven passes for 88 yards (five of them to tight end Anthony DiNorscia, who had 75 yards receiving), but was picked off by Dan Walls, Ricky McQuay, and Ryan Romanowski in the Braves’ three lone trips into Knights territory. When the dust settled, Rustin’s swarming defense notched four interceptions and held Octorara to just 154 yards of offense.
“Our defensive coordinator, Joe Carr, did a good job of scheming to try to stop (Gooden),” St. Clair said. “He’s fast, he’s quick, and he’s a very good athlete. We were lucky enough to keep him under control tonight.”
Friday’s game may not have been the ideal preparation for a district playoff, but St. Clair took full advantage of a rare chance to empty his bench. Twelve Knights toted the rock, including junior T.J. Kirk, who gained 91 yards on just eight carries, including long runs of 23 and 29 yards in the third quarter. “It was nice,” St. Clair said. “The kids work hard in practice all week and all year, and it’s nice to get everybody a chance to play tonight.”
Entering Friday, the Golden Knights were in line for the No. 9 seed and a road trip to No. 8 Coatesville in the first round of the district playoffs. Winners of six straight, the Red Raiders are flying high and could be the team that the rest of the playoff participants least want to face. After a performance like this, though, Rustin has to feel like it has a shot, no matter who the Knights face.
“It was a great performance going into the playoffs,” Loper said. “The O-line blocked like we asked them to, and we came out with hard defense. We needed this win. They’re an excellent team. I know they put a lot of points up on Unionville, and we just needed to come out swinging. We didn’t let them in it.”
W.C. Rustin 41, Octorara 0
Octorara 0 0 0 0 -- 0
W.C. Rustin 21 13 7 0 -- 41
WCR-Burke 3 run (Jenkins kick)
WCR-Pernsley 9 run (Jenkins kick)
WCR-Loper 26 run (Jenkins kick)
WCR-Loper 21 run (Jenkins kick)
WCR-Loper 14 run (kick failed)
WCR-Peterson 18 run (Muller kick)
First downs 9 21
Yards rushing 66 394
Yards passing 88 23
Total yards 154 417
Passing 7-16-4 2-3-0
Fumbles-Lost 0-0 1-0
Penalties 0-0 2-20
Punts-Avg. 4-23.3 0-0
RUSHING - Octorara: Gooden 19-52; Butler 2-6; Norris 1-3; Hill 2-3; Cooper 5-2. W.C. Rustin: Loper 10-133, 3 TDs; Kirk 8-91; Burke 8-81, TD; Pernsley 7-46, TD; Peterson 3-35, TD; Muliawan 3-22; Lamberjack 1-6; Fountain 1-3; Nelson 2-0; Carfagno 1-(-1); Simpkins 2-(-9); Fithian 1-(-10).
PASSING - Octorara: Gooden 7-15-3, 88 yards; Norris 0-1-1. W.C. Rustin: Fithian 2-3-0, 23 yards.
RECEIVING - Octorara: DiNorscia 5-75; Butler 1-12; Cooper 1-1. W.C. Rustin: Lamberjack 1-16; Walls 1-7.
SACKS - Octorara: Stiles. W.C. Rustin: None.
INTERCEPTIONS - Octorara: None. W.C. Rustin: Amicone, McQuay, Romanowski, Walls.