A record night - from Eisenhower's perspective.
In 2011, the Knights watched Youngsville clinch a Region 2 championship and an undefeated season, including a 42-13 "Backyard Brawl" victory at Mike Shine Field.
This year, it was their turn for some fun.
Times Observer photo by Ben Oviatt
Leading the way
Eisenhower's John Pascuzzi follows blocker Gus Bauer down the field during the Knights’ 67-26 win over Youngsville Friday night at Eisenhower High School. Pascuzzi finished the game with 297 yards on 24 carries and four touchdowns.
Eisenhower, which wrapped up a share of the region title last week with a 55-0 win over Union City, downed the visiting Eagles, 67-26, on Friday to clinch the Region 2 championship.
"We expected Youngsville to come out and fight, and they did," said Knights coach Jim Penley, whose Knights are 7-2 overall and finish 7-0 in the region. "We have a lot of respect for them. You can't have a rivalry without a level of respect between the teams."
John Pascuzzi got the scoring started early - and then often. The senior standout finished with close to 300 yards rushing, a feat he has accomplished earlier this season in a game. He's also a strong game from the all-time career rushing record of 3,115 held by Steve Witte. He's another monster game from breaking Witte's single-season rushing record of 1,586 yards at Eisenhower.
Offensively, for the Knights, Pascuzzi was far from the only one carrying the load. Alex Johnson picked up 86 yards on seven carries, Logan Bellardo 71 yards on two carries, Trevor Spicer 59 yards on five carries, and Carter Farrell 48 yards on two carries.
Eisenhower racked up an eye-popping 588 total rushing yards, smashing the previous school single-game record of 477. The output also topped the previous school record for total yards of 537.
Pascuzzi started in the first quarter with a 26-yard run for the night's first touchdown. Pascuzzi finished with four touchdowns, fittingly enough on senior night.
"I still can't believe I won't be playing on this field anymore, but this was a great way to end it," said Pascuzzi.
In typical Backyard Brawl fashion, the game swung back and forth early on, with the Eagles answering on a one-yard run from Rocco Gatta to put Youngsville up 7-6 before Pascuzzi found the end zone again, this time from two yards out. Not to be outdone, Gatta matched Pascuzzi with his second touchdown of the quarter to tie the game at 13-13.
Pascuzzi continued to dominate with his third score of the evening before Farrell became the second Eisenhower runner to find the end zone with a 27-yard dash to extend the lead.
Refusing to back down, Youngsville's Jacob Lauffenburger hit Gatta with a 14-yard pass for a touchdown, but that was cancelled out with quick drive downfield and a six-yard run from Rob Wilston with only five seconds on the clock to close out the first half.
Eisenhower came out strong defensively in the third quarter, blanking the Eagles and furthering their lead with five-yard runs from both Pascuzzi and Spicer.
Leaving the game in the hands of their younger players, the Knights racked up three more touchdowns, including a 49-yard run from the sophomore Bellardo and a 38-yard interception return by Wilston to put the game away.
Gatta would find the end zone one more time for Youngsville in the fourth quarter to cap off an impressive individual performance, finishing with 118 yards on 26 carries and four touchdowns, three on the ground and one receiving.
With an automatic bid for the District 10 Class A playoffs already clinched, Eisenhower will return to action in a non-region game next week traveling to Cameron County. Youngsville (1-8 overall, 1-6 Region 2) will face of against yet another county opponent when they welcome the Sheffield Wolverines to Mike Shine Field.
Youngsville - Eisenhower Stats
E - John Pascuzzi 26 yard run, 9:57; Extra point missed.
Y - Rocco Gatta 5 yard run, 7:16; T.J. Hardy kick.
E - Pascuzzi 5 yard run, 4:58; Nathan O'Brien kick.
Y - Gatta 1 yard run, 2:10; Extra point blocked.
E - Pascuzzi 2 yard run, 10:16; O'Brien kick.
E - Carter Farrell 27 yard run, 2:20; O'Brien kick.
Y - Jacob Lauffenburger 14 yard pass to Gatta, 0:30; Extra point missed.
E - Rob Wilston 6 yard run, 0:05; O'Brien kick.
E - Pascuzzi 5 yard run, 8:17; O'Brien kick.
E - Trevor Spicer 5 yard run, 2:41; Extra point missed.
E - Jake Johnson 5 yard run, 11:55; Extra point missed.
E - Logan Bellardo 49 yard run, 8:18; O'Brien kick.
E - Rob Wilston 38 yard interception return, 6:44; Spicer kick.
Y - Gatta 5 yard run, 0:55; hardy kick.
RUSHING-Y - Rocco Gatta 26-118 3TD, jacob Lauffenburger 19-57; E - John Pascuzzi 24-297 4TD, Alex Johnson 7-86, Logan Bellardo 2-71 1TD, Trevor Spicer 5-59 1TD, Carter Farrell 2-48 1TD, Louie Head 1-11, Rob Wilston 2-7 1TD, Jake Johnson 1-5 1TD, Bryce Garris 1-4.
PASSING-Y - Jacob Lauffenburger 6/15-97 1TD 2INT; E - Aaron Lundmark 1/3-4 1INT
RECEIVING-Y - T.J. Hardy 2-68, Andy Kerr 3-15, Rocco Gatta 1-14 1TD; E - Nathan O'Brien 1-4