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Matt Goodlin sets rushing record as Knoch runs past Freeport

November 15, 2018

There was so much mud on the jersey of Knoch’s Matt Goodlin that the No. 5 on it became hard to read with each rush in the pouring rain Friday night.

Make no mistake, though. It was easy to tell when Goodlin was carrying the ball because of his punishing style between the tackles.

And when he was finished, he added another chapter to the historic No. 5 that’s been in Knoch running back lore.

Goodlin rushed for 234 yards and two touchdowns, giving him a single-season school-record 1,440 yards in Knoch’s 26-7 victory over Freeport in a nonconference game.

Knoch ended the season at 5-5 and missed the playoffs, losing a tiebreaker to New Castle. Freeport (5-4) had a five-game winning streak snapped but already had clinched a playoff spot in Class AAA.

Goodlin finished 9 yards ahead of the late Tim McNerney’s mark of 1,431 set in 2007. McNerney also wore No. 5, a number taken with great pride by Knights running backs.

“I got to thank all my teammates, my linemen and my A-backs and (quarterback) Chase (Mullen) for reading everything correctly,” Goodlin said. “It means a lot because lately I have been dedicating my games to Tim. It’s special for me to go out and do that with my teammates.”

After Austin Romanchak broke free for a 67-yard touchdown run two plays into the second half to give Freeport a 7-6 lead, Goodlin responded a 38-yard run on the second play of the ensuing drive that put Knoch at the 1-yard line. He finished the drive on the next play by plunging into the end zone to put Knoch back ahead 13-7. Goodlin added a 30-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter that closed the scoring.

“Matt is a special kid, and he has special guys up front that are blocking for him,” Knoch coach Frank Whalen said. “Hats off to Noah Cetnar, Jimmy Johnston and Cam Grassi, our A-backs. They are the most important part of this offense because they do everything. They have played terrific football all year long.”

Romanchak finished with 105 yards rushing, and Conor Selinger had 104 yards but Freeport had issues with footing in the sloppy conditions.

“We had some key stops in the first half, but our guys didn’t have traction tonight,” Freeport coach John Gaillot said. “A lot of guys didn’t have the right spikes on to get traction. We had a lot of guys with molded spikes, and very few that had the screw-in type that gives you more traction.”

Knoch and Freeport are separated by nine miles but hadn’t played in 13 years.

“Every game means something to me,” Gaillot said. “It was a game that we could have won, but we didn’t and that’s on me. I didn’t prepare them well enough.”

Jim Johnston had a 39-yard interception return in the final two minutes of the second quarter that gave Knoch a 6-0 lead at halftime, and he added a 50-yard touchdown run on a misdirection play in the third.

The Knights finished the season with a three-game winning streak.

“We talked to them all week long about the importance of finishing well,” Whalen said. “How you finish is much more important than how you start. I’m proud of the kids of the effort they put forth tonight.”

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