JEFFERSON TWP — One milestone set up another.
Teddy Ruffner carried 32 times for 303 yards and a career-high six touchdowns Friday night as Mars pulled away from Knoch, 48-13, in a Greater Allegheny Conference game at Knoch Stadium.
The Planets (4-1) scored the final 41 points of the game after Knoch (0-5) grabbed a 13-7 lead with nine minutes left in the first half.
Ruffner's night was done after his sixth touchdown — an 11-yard scamper around left end — with 9:49 left in the game.
“He's something else,” Mars coach Scott Heinauer said. “We'd love to give him the ball on every play. We'd love to do that. Obviously, we can't do that.”
Ruffner's production put him over 1,000 yards for the season through just five games.
“Milestones are always nice. But it's winning that's important,” Ruffner said.
The Planet victory marked the 199th win for Heinauer while coaching Mars. He can earn No. 200 next Friday when the Planets host Greensburg Salem.
“I just hope it happens. I've got my fingers crossed,” Heinauer said. “Getting 200 wins at the same school is something special. It'd be a special achievement for anyone.
“We've had a dedicated staff that's been here a long time. That's been a big part of it.”
Win No. 199 didn't come so easily at first.
After a Ruffner 30-yard scoring run gave Mars a 7-0 lead, the Knights answered with a 14-play, 75-yard drive that culminated with a Gavin McGowan 4-yard touchdown run to knot the score.
Caleb Miller — who was crowned Homecoming King at halftime — recovered a Mars fumble at the Planets' 31 early in the second quarter. Keith Washington tossed a 31-yard touchdown pass to Zane Inklovich on the next play and Knoch had a 13-7 lead.
“That touchdown drive was our best of the season. That was nice to see,” Knoch coach Brandon Mowry said.
Washington was playing quarterback for the injured JJ Szebalskie, who thought he'd be playing earlier in the week.
“JJ got a second opinion from the doctor because he didn't have full range of motion,” Mowry said. “We didn't find out he was out until Thursday. Keith did a great job stepping in.”
But the Knights' lead was short-lived.
Ruffner scored on a 55-yard run 24 seconds after Knoch took the lead. Chris Dvorak then recovered a Knoch fumble at the Knights 20-yard line. Quinn Fuller hit Dvorak with a 16-yard pass on 3rd-and-7, setting up a Ruffner 1-yard scoring run and a lead Mars never lost.
An interception by Rafael Bartley gave the ball back to Mars. Ruffner capped a 58-yard drive with a 3-yard run with 1:40 left in the half and the Planet lead was 27-13.
“Mistakes hurt us again,” Mowry said. “It's frustrating. “We know what we want to do and how to do it. We're just not consistent enough.”
The Planets put the game away with a 16-play, 68-yard drive to begin the third quarter. The drive ate 8 minutes, 57 seconds off the clock.
Knoch was held to four first downs in the second half.
“You can't get first downs if you don't have the ball,” Heinauer said. “We control the ball and the clock. That's our offense. That's what we do.
“That second half was the best we've played all season.”
Ruffner's game was his best of the season as well.
“He's a big, strong back. You can't tackle him up high. You have to take his pins out,” Mowry said. “He had a monster night.”
Knoch knew Ruffner was getting the ball. It couldn't do much about it.
“That's our linemen and the blocking of (Ben) Chizmar and (Anthony) Vargo, our other backs,” Ruffner said. “They did a tremendous job of opening up room for me to get outside.
“What Coach (Heinauer) has done with this program is amazing. I don't know what our playoff streak is, but since I began coming to games as a little kid, we've never missed. I love being a part of this.”
Mars generated 22 first downs and 401 yards rushing on the night.
Mars 7 20 7 14 — 48
Knoch 7 6 0 0 — 13
M — Teddy Ruffner 30 run (Eli Wright kick), 8:12
K — Gavin McGowan 4 run (Brendan Tristani kick), 1:57
K — Zane Inklovich 31 pass from Keith Washington (kick failed), 9:00
M — Ruffner 55 run (kick failed), 8:36
M — Ruffner 1 run (Wright kick), 5:06
M — Ruffner 3 run (Wright kick), 1:40
M — Ruffner 4 run (Wright kick), 3:07
M — Ruffner 11 run (Wright kick), 9:55
M — Evan Wright 4 run (Wright kick), 2:22
Rushing:Mars, Quinn Fuller 2-17, Teddy Ruffner 32-303, Anthony Vargo 3-8, Ben Chizmar 2-9, Evan Wright 8-49, Hayden Mayer 3-15, Luka Moran 1-3, Rafael Bartley 1-(-3). Knoch, Keith Washington 5-20, Tyler Buterbaugh 5-16, Gavin McGowan 18-71, Zane Inklovich 3-3, TEAM 1-(-1), Brady Pflugh 3-15, Bennett Shaw 2-2.
Passing:Mars, Quinn Fuller 4-8-54-0. Knoch, Keith Washington 2-5-61-1.
Receiving: Mars, Teddy Ruffner 1-5, Chris Dvorak 1-16, Ben Chizmar 1-19, Anthony Vargo 1-14. Knoch, Zane Inklovih 2-61.