GIBSON CITY - In one half, senior running back Nick Meunier broke both the school and IHSA 1A playoff records for touchdowns in a game with seven trips to pay dirt, as the Falcons (10-0) defeated Mt. Olive (5-5) 49-13 on Saturday.
The Falcon offensive line essentially dared everyone to try to touch Meunier, as the senior took 13 carries for 242 rushing yards and five rushing touchdowns, to go along with a pair of punt return touchdowns that brought his yardage total to 387.
“The blocking was great,” Meunier said in a WGCY radio interview after the game. “I think the whole night I was on the ground maybe four or five times. When you get 15 or so carries, that really says a lot about the guys up front.”
Running behind the wall of Tristan Smith, Glenn Mehl, Levi Davis, Alex Hunt, Mitch McNutt, Nick Schoonover, James Fairfield, Key-Shawn Girkin and Alex Rosenbaum, among others, Meunier was able to go virtually untouched on most runs, despite the slick field conditions.
“I had to slow down a little bit,” Meunier said. “I wasn’t able to really make cuts or try to make moves quickly. So there’s a lot of pitter patter and slowing down to make sure you don’t slip.”
Coincidentally, each of Meunier’s first four touchdowns - they were runs of 47, 38, 20 and 40 yards-came o the third play of the drives.
All three of the other touchdowns would have been on punt returns, if not for a penalty on the second one.
After an 80-yard punt return touchdown, Meunier’s next punt return touchdown was called back, when a number of Mt. Olive defenders were sent airborne by a slew of solid blocks heard by everyone.
The senior responded immediately, taking the next play 59 yards for his sixth touchdown of the day.
On the record breaking final play of the half, Meunier almost let the punt go, but instead grabbed it and took it to the house, as time expired on the clock and on the previous IHSA playoff touchdown record of six.
The previous GCMS single game touchdown record was also six, held by Aaron “Suma” Parsons, Zach Summers and Meunier, himself, in a game earlier this season.
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In 1998, an IHSA class 6A rusher went for eight touchdowns in a playoff game for the playoff record across all school sizes.
Key-Shawn Girkin had an impressive 66 yards on seven carries while spelling Meunier.
Defense allows score
Mt. Olive became the first team to score on GCMS in six weeks, after taking advantage of a good kick return.
Thanks to rainy conditions, the Wildcats slid through a few holes and set themselves up at the Falcon 10-yard line to start their scoring drive.
GCMS’ defense stood strong but didn’t have enough room to work with, as Mt. Olive managed the second touchdown against the Falcon starting unit in eight weeks.
“To be honest, the shutouts have just kind of been a burden on our shoulders,” Meunier said. “The fact we’ve given up points now is almost a relief, because now we can just play football and enjoy it.”
Mt. Olive was held to 21 first-half yards and finished with 121 yards, after scoring their second touchdown against the second unit late in the game.
Key-Shawn Girkin was in on 13 total tackles, followed by Luke Freehill with 11 and Levi Davis with 10 tackles, a fumble recovery and a tipped pass.
Sam Baillie deflected two punts to go along with seven tackles. James Fairfield and Zach Johnson added seven and eight tackles, respectively.