EAST WHITELAND >> What a difference two weeks makes.
That is the last time Great Valley hosted West Chester Rustin, and the Patriots used a second half comeback to defeat the Golden Knights by two points.
Friday night, in the opening round of the District 1 Class 5A playoffs, Rustin exacted revenge as the Golden Knights completely dominated the Patriots, 48-17, in a game where Rustin rushed for 494 yards and put three runners — Nick Benoit, Ty Pringle and J.T. Aloiso — over the 100-yard mark. Benoit led the rushing parade with 200 yards on just 15 carries, including a touchdown.
“The difference from two weeks ago to tonight was our energy,” Benoit said. “We maybe did not prepare as well as we should have last time. and we had the same 14-0 lead like we did tonight and last time we sort of settled for that. Tonight, we wanted more and our offensive line was completely dominant and they did a great job for our three-pronged rushing attack. It is good to have three or four guys who can run the football because the other team cannot key on just one player.”
Rustin (7-4), the ninth seed, will now travel to Springfield-Delco to play the top-seeded Cougars, who defeated Penncrest Friday night. That game will be next Friday at 7 p.m.
But this night belonged to the Golden Knights right from the beginning as Rustin took the opening kickoff, and behind the running of Benoit and Pringle, drove the ball down the field at will on the Great Valley (6-5) defense. Pringle finished the seven-play drive by waltzing into the end zone from three yards out for a 7-0 lead. Rustin then got a big interception from Benoit that turned into another Pringle score, this one from two yards out and it was a 14-0 Rustin lead after one period.
Great Valley quarterback Jake Prevost was under duress much of the game as the Golden Knights’ front four continually put pressure on the junior, and with the Patriots running game not keeping the Golden Knights’ defense honest, it was a long night for the Patriots. Sean Hopkins and Carson Jones put pressure on the the quarterback all night and each recorded a sack.
“We got pressure with four guys tonight,” said West Chester Rustin head coach Mike St. Clair. “And that helped our secondary out, not like the first time we played. And we used Sean on defense tonight. He has been hurting with a shoulder injury for about six weeks but tonight he did a great job and we played West Chester Rustin football which is running the football and playing tough defense. We only threw three passes and that is what I like. We had a lot of energy tonight.”
Rustin poured it on in the second period as Pringle exploded for a 28-yard touchdown run and Will Pileggi hit Hopkins with a four-yard pass on fourth and goal, leading Rustin to a commanding 27-7 lead at the half. Pringle, Benoit and Alosio were all gashing the Patriots’ defense and were getting big chunks of yardage right up the gut of the Great Valley defense.
Great Valley did not go away easily in the second half, however. The Patriots kept Rustin off the board in the third period and added a 29-yard field goal from Jose Hernadez to cut the Rustin lead to 27-10 after three. But, Rustin exploded on the Patriots again in the fourth quarter, as on the first play of the period, Aloiso went in from six yards out to make it a 34-10 game. Aloiso rushed for 111 yards on just 10 carries and Pringle added another 145 on 15 carries, including an electrifying 48-yard burst midway into the fourth quarter that nailed the coffin shut on Great Valley’s season. It was Pringle’s fourth score of the night.
“We really got pressure on their quarterback tonight,” Hopkins said. “And last time we had a 14-0 lead and maybe let up a little but we did not do that tonight. We came in ready to play. The coaches knew it before the game when we came on the field.”
Great Valley added a score late in the game on a 10-yard pass from Provost to Mark Neri in the final two minutes of action and after the game Great Valley head coach Dan Ellis thanked his team and seniors for their effort this season.
“Rustin played with a ton of energy tonight and Pringle is a special player.” Ellis said.
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