In a rematch of a close game from just two weeks ago, the Bayard Rustin Golden Knights got their revenge over the Great Valley Patriots and advanced to the second round of PIAA District 1 playoffs with a dominant 48-17 victory.
Just two weeks ago, on October 21, the two Ches-Mont League American Division rivals had met on the same field. Great Valley came from behind with a fourth quarter touchdown to win 31-28. Given their identical 6-4 records, that game served as the tiebreaker for where Friday’s playoff game would be played.
Playing at home looked to be an advantage for the Patriots as they were 4-1 at home this season. Also working in their favor was the fact that the Golden Knights were just 1-4 on the road.
None of that mattered after kick off, however, as the teams both struggled to get their offenses going early. In the opening minutes, the temperature dropped significantly, and winds picked up and continued throughout the game.
While the sudden change in the weather made conditions feel more like what would be expected for playoff football, it did affect the passing game. Both teams went for it on fourth down on their opening possessions and both quarterbacks saw their fourth down passes fall incomplete.
Rustin finally got things going on the ground and stuck with that blueprint for the rest of the night. After Great Valley turned it over on downs, senior running back Nick Benoit broke through the defense for a 42-yard run before being brought down at the 15-yard line.
Two plays later, junior quarterback Will Pileggi tossed to senior running back Ty Pringle on a sweep play, which was able to walk in for a 4-yard touchdown. With just over two minutes remaining in the first quarter, the Golden Knights had taken a 7-0 lead.
On Great Valley’s ensuing possession, junior quarterback Jake Prevost was intercepted at midfield. The Golden Knights running game struck again when Benoit cut to the outside and up the sideline for 39 yards, before being forced out of bounds at the 3-yard line.
On the next play, the third member of Rustin’s punishing backfield, senior fullback JT Aloisio, punched it in for a 3-yard touchdown to give Rustin a 14-0 in the closing seconds of the first quarter.
The spark that Great Valley needed came from their defense on the Golden Knight’s next drive. Pileggi fumbled at the Great Valley 37-yard line and the ball was recovered by sophomore linebacker Eduardo Neri.
The Great Valley offense took advantage right away when senior wide receiver Damien Carter took a handoff and rushed down the sideline to the Rustin 3-yard line. Senior running back Alex Crouse finished the drive with a 3-yard rushing touchdown to make it a 14-7 game with five minutes left in the first half.
The Golden Knights offense got right back on track though as their next drive culminated with a 27-yard touchdown run but Pringle. Less than a minute after putting the game within one score, the Patriots were trailing by 14 points again. Rustin wasn’t done yet.
On a 3rd-and-5 with less than a minute before halftime, Aloisio rumbled through the defense and down to the 5-yard line with just 38 seconds left in the second quarter. After losing a yard on 1st-and-goal, Pileggi rolled to his right and passed to junior wide receiver Ryan Cotter in the back of the end zone for a 6-yard touchdown.
After a missed extra point, Rustin was going into halftime with a 27-7 lead.
Coming out of the locker room, Great Valley needed to put points on the board to get back into the game. Prevost was able to drive them down into the red zone on their first possession of the second half, but the Golden Knight’s defense forced them to settle for a field goal, making it 27-10.
The teams traded three-and-outs for the rest of the third quarter before the Rustin running game went off again to close out the game.
On the first play of the fourth quarter, Benoit set the offense up again with a 19-yard run to give them 1st-and-goal from the 6-yard line. Aloisio then burst through for his second rushing touchdown of the night to give Rustin a 34-10 lead.
The Golden Knight running game could not be stopped. On the first play of Rustin’s next possession, Pringle weaved through seemingly the entire defense for a 48-yard touchdown, his third of the game.
Not to be outdone, one possession later, Benoit finally got in on the scoring with a 42-yard rushing touchdown. With just over five minutes to play, Rustin led by 38 points.
The Golden Knight’s defense forced the Patriots to go three-and-out until the final minute of the game. Great Valley’s Mark Neri added an 8-yard touchdown reception in the closing minute to make the final score a slightly more respectable looking 48-17.
After avenging their loss from two weeks ago, the Golden Knights will advance to the next round where they will face the 11-0 Springfield Cougars.