Knoch finds winning formula in conference victory over Deer Lakes

Friday, September 29, 2023 | 10:46 PM

Sometimes when things are working, there isn’t a need to change anything.

That’s the philosophy Knoch coach Tim Burchett put to use Friday night for Knoch’s offense.

And that led to five straight possessions with a touchdown and a 41-21 victory over Deer Lakes in the Class 3A Allegheny 6 Conference opener.

“We honestly ran 10 plays in our offense all night, and everything was working,” Burchett said. “Whether it was happenstance, somebody above, whatever it was, we went five straight times down the field and scored a touchdown. If you score five times in a row, your kids are executing.”

Ethan Alwine scored three touchdowns and rushed for 97 yards, and Codi Mullen had 154 yards passing, 88 yards rushing and accounted for two touchdowns.

The Knights (5-1, 1-0) scored on four of their five possessions in the first half. The only time they didn’t score was on their opening drive, but Codi Mullen intercepted a Derek Burk pass a few plays after they punted.

The interception set up the Knights at Deer Lakes’ 48, and they quickly moved down the field and Alwine scored on a 19-yard run.

Alwine scored again on Knoch’s next drive, this time from 4 yards to make it 14-0.

Deer Lakes (4-2, 0-1) answered on the next drive, which included converting a fourth-and-3 on its 40.

After the conversion, Burk launched a 50-yard bomb that hit Zach Grant in stride for a touchdown.

It did not take long for Knoch to get its two-score lead back, as Alwine scored on a 45-yard run.

“I got to give it up to my offensive line and Codi Mullen,” Alwine said. “They help me get through there and create open space. I appreciate all of them. It’s a good feeling getting those three touchdowns.”

Mullen added a 19-yard touchdown late in the second quarter to give Knoch a 28-7 lead going into halftime. He had a strong night running Knoch’s offense, constantly reading correctly on run-pass options.

“That’s what Codi is really good at is reading defensive ends and linebackers and getting us in the right play,” Burchett said. “We saw something. We knew they were in a certain coverage and just kept running the same play, to be honest.”

Deer Lakes was stifled by penalties in the first half. Three good kick returns were called back on a hold or a block in the back, and two potential first downs were wiped out by holding penalties.

That continued into the second half as Deer Lakes had two more first downs taken away via penalty.

Deer Lakes coach Tim Burk politely declined comment after the game.

In total, Deer Lakes was penalized for 135 yards to Knoch’s 53 yards.

Zier Williams scored on a 1-yard run to cut Knoch’s lead to 28-14 on the opening drive of the third quarter, but Knoch responded promptly when Mullen hit Jackson Bauman in the back of the end zone for a 12-yard score.

Burk connected with Wayne Love on a 35-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter.

Knoch’s Brady Pflugh returned a fumble 47 yards for a score in the final minute of the game.

Jerin Steele is a freelance writer

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