WESTTOWN >> It’s one of the simplest formulas in sports — defense and a running game — and it more than not results in success and wins.
West Chester Rustin used the pair to near perfection once again as the Golden Knights rolled to a 41-14 victory over Radnor in the opening round of the District 1 Class 5A football playoffs on a balmy Friday evening.
The third-seeded Golden Knights (9-1) will host Ches-Mont League American Division rivals Kennett in the quarterfinals next Friday.
“Good win tonight,” said Rustin coach Mike St. Clair. “We’re clicking pretty good offensively and defensively against a pretty good and well-coached Radnor team. Real mix of plays and we move.”
After stuffing the Raptors (3-7) on their first possession, Rustin took over on its 43-yard-line. They went off on a methodical 10-play, 57-yard drive. They cashed in as Chase Hatton bulled in from the four to gain an early 7-0 lead.
They were on the verge of scoring the next time they touched the ball, but Radnor took over after recovering a fumle on its 5.
“We knew we were playing a good team,” said Radnor first-year coack Kyle Yeiter. “I’ve followed Rustin from my time at Cheltenham, knowing that they’re an excellent, excellent program and they do what they do. They run the Wing-T and they beat you up up front.
“At the end of the day, I’m proud of the kids. They had to work for everything they got.”
Rustin partially defelected a punt early in the second quarter and took control. Daimon Jacobs galloped 29 yards, plus a facemask penalty, and took the ball to the 10. Two plays later, Jacobs pushed in from the three to make it 14-0.
Radnor used its most explosive play of the game to halve the deficit. Tommy DeShaun broke free for a 70-yard kickoff return, being dragged down at the Rustin 20. On a first-and-goal at the 8, quarterback Tucker Graham rolled around left end, made a juke, and scurried into the end zone to cut Rustin’s lead to 14-7.
The Golden Knights came right back on another long march. This time, they went 78 yards on nine plays. Jacobs provided the big play with a 30-yard run. QB David McClain capped the drive with a 1-yard sneak to make it 21-7 late in the half.
Rustin enjoyed a big advantage on the stat sheet as well as the scorboard. They outgained the Raptors 228-40.
Jacobs had 13 carries for 139 yards.
“The secret is having three good running backs that can run the football and an offensive line who is well coached and fires off the ball,” St. Clair said when asked what was the secret to his team’s fast start.
Nelson Murray returned the second-half kickoff 50 yards to Radnor 45. Two plays later, Hatton raced through the middle 43 yards to paydirt and a 28-7 lead.
“The line is amazing,” said Hatton. “I have to get a gift for them or something. They do everything they’re told, they don’t miss a block. Greatest o-line I ever had.”
Rustin scored twice in the fourth quarter — a five-yard TD pass from McClain to Jeremey Lynn, and a five-yard run from Caleb Jacob — before Radnor ended the scoring with three seconds left on a 42-yard TD pass from backup QB Matt Szychulski to Bryce Cohen.
The Raptors can now look to the future as Yeiter looks to build the program to equal past greatness.
“This season’s been great and we’re setting the foundations to be a good program,” said Yeiter. “The kids have bought in and started to show in the second half of the season. It stinks to go out like this, but our goal was to make the district playoffs. Our goal next year is to not only make the District 1 playoffs, but to win a playoff game.”
For Rustin, they now have a week to prepare to try and avenge a 24-14 defeat to Kennett earlier in the season.
“We’re ready. We’re going to get prepared, have a good week of practice and just get ready for them,” said Hatton.