Loper, Rustin run past Octorara

WESTTOWN – Terry Loper wanted to make the most of his last regular season home game playing for West Chester Rustin.

Loper and 21 Rustin seniors were honored prior to the game for senior recognition night, but the Golden Knights’ all-time leading rusher admitted the moment caught him once he stepped on the turf.

“I just want to thank God for the things that I’ve got,’ Loper said. “I’m a humble person. I’ll take what I can get. I had to make to make the most of tonight. That’s what we all did, came out and made the most of everything.’

Loper turned in another memorable performance for Rustin as he finished with 11 carries for 230 yards and three touchdowns as the Golden Knights defeated Octorara 42-14 in a Ches-Mont League American Division game Friday night.

The win clinched a top-four seed in the District 1 Class AAAA playoffs for Rustin (6-0. 9-1), the Ches-Mont American Division champions for the second consecutive season. Octorara (3-3, 5-5) fell to .500 with the loss, but is expected to enter the District 1 Class AAA playoffs for the first time after Marple Newtown, Glen Mills and Upper Perkiomen lost their Week 10 matchups.

“The kids are excited to have that opportunity,’ said Octorara head coach Jedd King. “We tied the best record this school has ever had by getting a chance at a playoff berth was our goal to start the season. We accomplished that.’

Rustin used a strong first half to pull away from Octorara, all in part to Loper receiving massive holes from the Golden Knights offensive line.

Loper’s first touchdown run of 30 yards put Rustin up 7-0. After Octorara quarterback Alex Gooden tied the game on a 1-yard touchdown run, Loper answered with a 68-yard score on the Golden Knights’ first play of their ensuing drive to make it 14-7.

Loper scored his third and final touchdown on a eight-yard run to give Rustin a 28-7 lead. He had eight carries for 172 yards and three touchdowns in the first half. For the regular season, Loper finished with 195 carries for 1,771 yards and 23 touchdowns.

“Those holes (on the offensive line) were big today, as always,’ Loper said. “The guys did an outstanding job to let me, Mike, Dom and Steve get through the holes. With all the safeties in the box, those guys did a great job picking everything up.’

“Terry’s hitting on all four cylinders right now,’ said Rustin head coach Mike St. Clair. “The offensive line is doing a greta job opening up holes for him. He has great speed and power and hopefully we can keep it going one more week.’

Rustin finished with 276 rushing yards in the game and closed the season on a six game winning streak. Mike McKnight had two catches for 69 yards, including a 48-yard touchdown reception from Evan Wlock to make it 35-7 late in the first half.

Octorara’s .500 season was not the only history made for the Braves this season. Gooden finished with 21 carries for 159 yards and a touchdown, giving him 1,000 yards rushing for the season.

Once Gooden (1,131) eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark in the second quarter, he and teammate Corey Cooper (1,093) became the first pair of Ches-Mont teammates to rush for 1,000 yards in a season since Avon Grove’s Brandon Monk and Jordan Harris accomplished the feat in 2009.

“They’re great runners, but our offensive line allowed for them to be highlighted,’ King said. “This is a team accomplishment and I’m excited for them.’

While Octorara will play the waiting game for their district playoff fate, Rustin awaits its first-round opponent.

The Golden Knights will host a Class AAAA first-round playoff game for the fourth time in the last five years and will attempt to win their first playoff game since 2010, when Rustin went to the district semifinals.

“We’re in a little bit of a rhythm now,’ McKnight said. “After last year, there’s no way we can lose in the first round again. We’re going to prepare a lot harder this year and hoping to get the ‘ W’ this time.’

“As a senior group, we’re looking to end the curse of one-and-done,’ Loper said. “We a hungry team and preparing to make a deep district run. Hopefully, we can get this first win. I believe this team has what it takes to get where we have to go.’

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