McQuaid’s regular-season schedule was called soft.
The Knights have a sophomore at quarterback. They also lost to their opponent in sectionals by 14 points last month.
These were all reasons why McQuaid could have been in for a short stay in the Section V playoffs.
The Knights took all of that, bunched it into a ball and threw it out Friday at McQuaid, as they beat Rush-Henrietta, 14-7, to extend its stay in the Class AA playoffs.
“I’m pretty excited,” McQuaid senior running back/linebacker Jake Zimmer said. “It was a big game and we came out and did our thing.
“We came out on top.”
McQuaid (6-2), the No. 4 seed in the tournament, advanced to the semifinals at Rhinos Stadium on Sunday, Oct 30. Top-seeded Victor (8-0) is next for the Knights, while No. 2 Pittsford (7-1) and No. 3 Fairport (7-1) meet in the other Class AA semifinal.
The Knights entered sectionals as champions of the Rochester City Athletic Conference. They were undefeated in conference games but lost both of its non-league regular-season games.
If a team can be impressive during a loss, maybe that was the case for McQuaid when the RCAC champion fell 14-10 at Aquinas. But Aquinas failed to qualify for the postseason, so nitpickers could have pointed to that and Rush-Henrietta’s 27-13 win at McQuaid in Week 1 and closed their eyes to the Knights’ chances to advance.
“The difference between the first time (against R-H) and this time is chemistry,’’ McQuaid senior defensive lineman Rickey King said. “We have a lot of younger guys on the team, so me and Jake got these guys going, chemistry and they were coached up, being put in the right spot on defense.
“It was more experience.’’
No. 5 seed Rush-Henrietta (4-4) of the Monroe County league turned the ball over five times. McQuaid defenders Ben Bogdan and Alex DeLano intercepted passes. DeLano, Pat Monahan and Kevin Fox recovered fumbles.
Cullen Lynch led McQuaid with 13 tackles, while teammate Mike Cairns had nine.
#McQuaid defensive lineman Rickey King approached me, said he will hold me to saying Knights "can't stop" R-H offense.— James A. Johnson (@jjDandC) October 22, 2016
McQuaid 7-0 halftime
Hunter Walsh, who became McQuaid’s quarterback in Week 2, passed for a touchdown and ran for another during the playoff rematch with Rush-Henrietta. Walsh completed 13 of 18 for 153 yards, including a screen pass that Zimmer caught and carried 20 yards for McQuaid’s first touchdown.
That score with 9:03 remaining in the second quarter was set up when Rush-Henrietta’s punter had to fall on a snap. A similar miscue early in the third quarter sent the Knights on their way to a 14-0 lead.
McQuaid took possession on the Rush-Henrietta 40 and converted fourth downs on their way to the end zone. When the Knights reached the Rush-Henrietta 2, a player was sent in motion to the left, hunched over as if ready to block, but Walsh took off to the right with 4:13 remaining in the third.
“We kept running an (off-tackle) play down their throats all game pretty much,’’ Walsh said. “We ran that, I think five times on that drive.
“I faked, saw open field and I just ran for my life for the touchdown.” ’
The Knights began to celebrate more as time melted away. Their defense still had a shutout going against Rush-Henrietta.
When the fourth quarter began, the teams switched directions, with Rush-Henrietta receiving the wind at its back. A fumble by McQuaid at the Rush-Henrietta 40 also seemed to get the Royal Comets started.
Defensive penalties and four plays put Rush-Henrietta into the end zone, as Dion Reed stepped in from the McQuaid 1 with 8:56 remaining. The Knights were still in control.
McQuaid moved the ball from its 15 yard line to the Rush-Henrietta 10, taking more than seven minutes off the clock along the way.
The Royal Comets kept McQuaid out of the end zone, but their next two possessions ended in interceptions.
When there was no time left on the clock, McQuaid sophomore lineman James Schnell said in his best professional wrestler voice “We’re going to the Big House!’’