Rustin beats Henderson 35-20, Neshaminy Up Next
When West Chester Henderson defeated Downingtown East in week 10, it shook up the District One AAAA football seedings.
So much so that when the 16th seeded Warriors upset top seeded and previously undefeated Ridley in the first round of the playoffs, it set up a rematch with sister school Bayard Rustin.
“I told Joe (Henderson Coach Walsh) last week I wish we were playing anybody else but them this week,” said Rustin Coach Mike St. Clair after his Golden Knights used a 21 point fourth quarter in a 35-20 come from behind victory over Henderson in the District One AAAA Football Quarterfinals Saturday afternoon at Rustin Stadium.
Trailing 20-14 entering the fourth quarter Anthony Nash (five receptions 59 yards) caught a 12 yard touchdown pass from Andrew Fithian (7-13 passing 106 yards 1 interception) with 9:40 left in the game that capped a 80 yard 10 play drive. Will Mau’s first extra point gave the Golden Knights a 21-20 lead. Nash had four of his receptions for 49 yards in the drive.
Following a fumble recovery by Chris Amicone on the Warrrior eight yard line, Rustin (11-1 overall) drove the remaining yards as Conor Burke scored from three yards out with 2:15 remaining as the lead was increased to 28-20.
Rustin then added the final nail as Mau intercepted a Strafford Foster pass and returned it 20 yards on the first play following the kickoff for the final margin.
“It’s tough,” said Walsh. “This was the second time in five weeks against them we had a lead in the fourth quarter and we couldn’t hold it,” he added.
Henderson, which finished their season 8-4 took a 20-14 lead with 1:14 left in the third quarter as Joe Dingfelder caught a 27 yard pass from Foster that capped a 58 yard nine play drive. Anthony D’Ambrosio blocked Kyle Morton’s extra point attempt.
“With Henderson, it’s always a war,” said St. Clair. “But our kids responded. Having been in playoff games before helped us,” he added.
Henderson took a 7-0 lead as T.J. White picked off a Fithian pass and returned it 76 yards just 3:33 into the game. It was the first interception Fithian has thrown this year.
Rustin then countered as Nick Simmler caught a 35 yard touchdown pass from Fithian as Rustin cut the lead to 7-6.
Henderson increased their lead to 14-6 as Phillip Mitten caught a 12 yard pass from Foster with 5:48 left before halftime. Rustin then answered when Frankie O’Donnell (18 carries 96 yards) scored from 30 yards out. Burke added the two point run that knotted the game at 14-14.
“O’Donnell’s having a great year,” said St. Clair. “He didn’t play defense today because he’s still having trouble with his shoulder. He’s one of the toughest kid’s I’ve ever coached and I’ve been coaching over 20 years,” he added.
With the win Rustin now plays Neshaminy next Friday night at Neshaminy in the semi-finals. North Penn plays at Council Rock South in the other semifinal.
“They’re big and they’re powerful,” St.Clair said of Neshaminy. “We’re just happy to be playing another week.”
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