Kris Bunk makes a catch between a pair of Girard defenders during a 2022 game. File photo by Steve Younger.

Perfect 10: Eisenhower Puts Finishing Touches on Unbeaten Regular Season With Hard-Fought Victory over Girard

October 29, 2022

GIRARD, Pa. – A pair of fourth-quarter interceptions helped Eisenhower secure a perfect regular season with a 13-7 win at Girard on Friday.

Caleb Penley wrestled Gabe Messmer’s pass away from Zach Lowe on the possession after Eisenhower took the lead. Then, with Girard driving and a minute left to play, Tucker Lindell stepped in front of Gunner Bax for what would prove to be the game-winner.

“They came out, they fought a really hard game,” Lindell said. “We were ready for them, made some adjustments, made some plays, and got the win.”

See Lindell’s full postgame interview here:

It’s already been a record-setting season for Eisenhower, and the Knights added to that history with the win over the Yellowjackets. Eisenhower finished the regular season 10-0 for the first time in school history. This was the Knights’ sixth undefeated regular season overall, the last was in the COVID-shortened 2020 season when Eisenhower went 7-0.

“Nobody’s ever done it before, in the 70-some-odd years we’ve been playing football,” Penley said. “It feels really amazing.”

See Penley’s full postgame interview here:

Running back Benji Bauer set two more school rushing records along the way as well. Bauer’s 138 yards (unofficial) moved him past Johnny Pascuzzi (2009-2012) to the top of the Knights’ career-rushing list. He now has 3,227 rushing yards and counting. Pascuzzi finished his career with 3,198 yards.

Benji Bauer runs for positive yards against Girard. Bauer broke two more school rushing records in the win. Photo by Steve Younger.

Bauer’s 30-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter gave the Knights the lead for good, and gave him 21 for the season, which puts him atop the single-season list. Jeff Benedict scored 20 rushing touchdowns in 1979.

“It feels great,” Bauer said. “But it’s our whole team, and we’re not finished yet.”

See Bauer’s full postgame interview here:

To get to 10-0, the Knights had to get past a game Girard (2-7).

After trading punts, Eisenhower was able to get the offense moving. A 23-yard pass from Shawn Pascuzzi to Kris Bunk set the Knights up inside the Yellowjackets’ 10.

Four plays later, Pascuzzi found Bunk again, this time for a 4-yard touchdown that gave the Knights a 7-0 lead with two minutes to play in the first quarter.

Both defenses clamped down for most of the second quarter, but Girard was able to break through with just over four minutes left in the half.

Messmer found Lowe on the sideline. Lowe made a man miss, headed down the sideline, then cut back inside for a 50-yard touchdown to tie the game at 7-7.

The Knights thought they had retaken the lead with a 61-yard Keegan Eckstrom run, but a holding penalty negated the play. Pascuzzi hit Bauer on an 18-yard screen pass to make a third-down conversion easier. The Jackets held and Bauer looked to have picked up the first down on a fake punt.

Another holding penalty wiped out the play and the Knights were forced to punt, sending the teams to the fourth quarter tied at 7-7.

Eisenhower used several Pascuzzi keepers to help create space for Bauer. The strategy paid off when Bauer broke off the 30-yard TD run with 9:34 to play.

Penley got his interception on the ensuing possession, and the teams traded punts until Lindell got the game-sealing pick.

Mason Kalicky led Girard with 32 rushing yards on six carries. James Kibbe ran twice for 18 yards and Messmer had six carries for 18 yards.

Messmer was 8-19 passing for 149 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. Lowe finished with three catches for 69 yards and a score. Bax had four receptions for 40 yards.

Bauer finished with 138 yards on 18 carries. He also had two catches for 42 yards.

Pascuzzi ran 10 times for 44 yards and was 8-11 through the air for 79 yards and a touchdown. Bunk had three catches for 29 yards and a TD.

The Knights now await their playoff fate. The District 10 selection committee meets Saturday to determine the seeding for the postseason. Eisenhower is vying with Reynolds (9-1) for the top seed. With D10 likely to take only six teams in Class 1A, both teams would get a bye regardless of which is the No. 1 seed.

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