ADAMS TWP — Too much Teddy.
Mars senior running back Teddy Ruffner tallied 35 carries for 321 yards and five touchdowns Friday night as the Planets outlasted Shaler, 34-20, in a Northern Conference football game at the Mars Athletic Complex.
“Teddy is in great shape,” Mars coach Scott Heinauer said. “He knows we depend on him to run the football and he can handle the workload.”
Ruffner plays linebacker on defense and was in on a critical tackle seconds before a game-breaking scoring run.
Mars (4-2, 2-1) took a 20-6 lead into halftime, but Shaler (2-4, 1-2) received the second-half kickoff. The Titans promptly drove 87 yards in 17 plays, pulling within 20-12 on a Jake Miller 10-yard touchdown catch on 4th-and-4 from the Planet 10-yard line.
The Planets went three-and-out and the Titans were on the move again. Darin Mizgorski's 56-yard pass to Blake Kucharski moved the ball to the Mars 11. A pass interference penalty gave Shaler a 4th-and-four from the 5-yard line.
Mizgorski kept the ball and cut inside. Ruffner grabbed his ankle and helped bring him to the turf for no gain.
“I know I tripped him up, but a couple of other guys swarmed in there, too,” Ruffner said. “I'm not sure if I had the actual tackle or not.”
Two plays later, Ruffner broke free up the middle for an 88-yard touchdown run and a 27-12 Mars lead.
“We came out and did exactly what we wanted to do in that third quarter,” Shaler coach Jim Ryan said. “But that (Ruffner) kid is a tough runner and Mars uses a lot of mis-direction.
“With the way those kids block, it's just hard to bottle him up.”
Shaler pulled within a touchdown again when Miller scored on a 26-yard run — capping a 77-yard drive — with 8:10 remaining.
The Planets answered with a 69-yard scoring drive to ice the game with 2:04 to play. During the drive, Ruffner ran for eight yards on a 4th-and-2 from the Shaler 40. He ran for 22 on 4th-and-1 from the Titans' 23.
“I have a lot of confidence in our offense,” Heinauer said. “I feel like we can move the football against anybody.
“We'll go for it on fourth and short, absolutely.”
Ruffner admitted to feeling “a little tired” after carrying the ball 35 times offensively.
“I get tremendous blocking,” he said. “Our wings, Ben (Chizmar), Joe (DeLuca) and Nick (Spotti) do a great job setting me up, along with our line.
“I thank those guys all the time for what they do for me.”
Spotti intercepted Mizgorski in the end zone with seconds remaining as Shaler tried to rally late. Mizgorski threw for 267 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
“He's getting a lot of Division II and I-AA looks,” Ryan said of his quarterback. “He'll wind up somewhere.”
The Planets wound up with a critical conference win.
“People predict blowout scores ... I knew this would be a tough one,” Heinauer said. “Shaler is big and physical. That concerned me.”
Josh Grell started at quarterback for Mars and attempted only four passes. The Planets trolled up 363 yards on the ground.
Shaler had 19 first downs and 378 yards of offense in the loss.
The Planets travel to North Hills Friday.
Shaler 0 6 6 8 — 20
Mars 7 13 0 14 — 34
M — Teddy Ruffner 3 run (Blake Edwards kick), 4:38
M — Ruffner 12 run (Edwards kick), 9:50
S — Logan Bernesser 22 pass from Darin Mizgorski (kick failed), 4:26
M — Ruffner 2 run (kick failed), 1:29
S — Jake Miller 10 pass from Mizgorski (pass failed), 4:38
M — Ruffner 88 run (Edwards kick), 11:00
S — Miller 26 run (Mizgorski run), 8:10
M — Ruffner 1 run (Edwards kick), 2:04
Rushing: Shaler, Darin Mizgorski 6-8, Jake Miller 15-98, Joey Impavido 2-2, Josh Miller 1-3. Mars, Drew Schlegel 2-30, Teddy Ruffner 35-321, Nick Spotti 4-14, Ben Chizmar 1-7, TEAM 1-(-6), Joe DeLuca 1-3.
Passing: Shaler, Darin Mizgorski 16-32-267-1. Mars, Josh Grell 0-4-0-0.
Receiving: Shaler, Jake Miller 3-19, Joey Impavido 7-103, Logan Bernesser 1-22, Blake Kucharski 3-95, Dylan Schlegel 1-8.