Eagles dominate on both sides of the ball in rout
DOWNINGTOWN >> Come district playoff time, coaches like to see their teams playing their best football.
Friday night at Jack Mancini Field, Bishop Shanahan head coach Paul Meyers had his wish granted. The Eagles put on a clinic as they dominated West Chester Rustin, 41-7, in the first round of the District 1 5A playoffs. The Eagles will now travel to Academy Park next Friday for a date with the second-seeded Knights.
Bishop Shanahan (8-3), the seven seed, struck early as the Eagles took the opening kickoff and drove 65 yards on nine plays with Brendan Dearing catching a seven-yard touchdown pass from Nick Skulski for a quick 7-0 lead.
No. 10 Rustin (5-6) was on its heels immediately.
“The seniors had a meeting before the game,” Bishop Shanahan head coach Paul Meyers said. “And Nick Skulski and Josh Burke started it and they said we wanted to score the first time we had the ball and not to punt the ball to them all night.”
That wish was granted, as well, as Shanahan never punted the ball away while the Eagles defense clamped down on Rustin, allowing just 115 yards rushing and 32 through the air as the Golden Knights offense did not score a point. Dearing, Mac Barry and Kevin Jones had big games for the Shanahan defense.
Shanahan also tok a 13-0 lead the second time the offense touched the ball, as John Kozinski hauled in a three-yard bullet from Skulski to make it a 13-0 game. The Eagles drove down the field with Joe Gueriera and Josh Burke leading the way. Gueriera had 74 yards on 17 carries, while Burke totaled 98 yards on just 13 carries. Skulski was brilliant, finishing 13-for-16 through the air. The Eagles ran up 372 total yards against the Rustin defense and Brendan Dearing had a big night, catching six passes for 94 yards and a touchdown to go with a defensive interception in the second quarter.
“We really wanted to come out and score right away,” Skulski said. “and when we did our confidence really went up. Our offensive line and our defense really dominated the game. We really wanted to score early and when we did we really came alive.”
Rustin gambled on its third drive of the game, already down 13-0. The Golden Knights went for it on a fourth and two in their own territory. But, the Eagles defense would have none of it as Brandon Frazier was stuffed and Shanahan was in business again. The Eagles quickly moved the ball from the 40-yard line to the five, and two Joe Gueriera runs later, the Eagles were up 19-0.
“Our offensive line opened up some big holes for me tonight,” Gueriera said. “About the only thing I can say is that they dominated the game for us tonight.”
Rustin showed some life after the Gueriera score when Pat Register ran the ensuing kickoff back 91 yards to make it a 19-7 game and bring the Golden Knights’ sideline to life. But, Brendan Dearing returned the favor on the ensuing Rustin kickoff, weaving his way down the left side of the field 84 yards, and just like that, Shanahan had the momentum back.
“It was real important that Brendan ran the kickoff back after they scored,” Skulsk said. “After they scored, it was huge for us to get them right back. It got our mojo back for us.”
The Eagles cemented their win as they took the second half kickoff and drove 74 yards on six plays and took over four minutes off the clock. The scoring drive ended with Burke barreling in from eight yards out for a 34-7 lead. From that point on, it was only a matter of time before Shanahan could look ahead to next week’s tilt against the defending district champion, Academy Park.
“It was a total team win tonight,” Meyers said. “All there phases of the game offense, defense and special teams were all good tonight. And Nick was great for us tonight.”
Bishop Shanahan’s Brendan Dearing dives to catch a pass that was tipped by West Chester Rustin’s JT Aloisio in the third quarter.