SPRING GROVE -- It's a nice luxury for Spring Grove head coach Russ Stoner to have do-everything running back Jeff Delaughter at his disposal when his football team gets backed into a corner.
No matter what, Stoner knows it will take a lot to wear down his senior standout.
Such was the case at Papermakers Stadium against Red Lion in a York-Adams League Division I battle on Monday night. After the Lions seemingly had the Rockets pinned down at their own 7 with 8:25 left in a tied contest, Delaughter needed just one carry to get his team the lead.
Delaughter took a handoff up the middle and ran untouched 93 yards for the go-ahead score in what turned out to be a 34-20 victory for Spring Grove (5-2 overall, 1-1 Division I).
That touchdown run was just one of 31 carries for the all-purpose back in a 307-yard performance for the school's all-time leading rusher.
"I think I've pretty much said everything I could possibly say about Jeff," Stoner said. "He's just a work horse, and I hope some people give him some looks to play college football. He's a great kid."
While most of his teammates may have enjoyed the holiday off school by sleeping in, Delaughter was up bright and early, putting in a full day of work at his place of employment. Even after a hard day's work and playing in a nearly three-hour football contest, Delaughter still wasn't worn out until well after the final whistle.
"I worked a nine-hour day today," Delaughter said. "I've been up since 4:30 a.m. I was building walls at (my job)."
The Spring Grove offensive line was building walls, too, opening up lanes for Delaughter all night. Delaughter ran for better than 10 yards seven different times, including a 30-yard run that evened the game at 7-7 midway through the first quarter.
Delaughter, who recalled the trying times of playing for a downtrodden Spring Grove outfit during Stoner's first year a couple seasons ago, gave credit to his teammates for his success.
"My first year it was real rough," he said. "But last year they all stepped up and that allowed me to get the 1,600 yards that I had. And this year they've stepped it up even more."
The Lions (3-4, 1-1) gave a Spring Grove squad that was a preseason favorite to win the Division I title everything it could handle. Red Lion took the lead on its second possession with a five-play, 54-yard touchdown drive that was capped off by a Blake Cahill 1-yard run.
The visitors took the lead again two plays into the second quarter when Cahill (17-for-31, 169 yards) hit Theo Thomas on a 33-yard strike with 11:45 left in the first half.
After a Spring Grove turnover, the Lions struck again when running back Kenny Holloway (20 carries, 104 yards) scored from 19 yards out to make it 20-10 with 1:47 left in the half.
That would prove to be the last time the visitors would score.
Despite facing a double-digit deficit, the Rockets showed no signs of panic. A 40-yard field goal from Andrew Luckenbaugh with two seconds left in the half cut the deficit to seven (20-13) heading into halftime.
"You don't see anyone on our sideline panic," Stoner said. "Probably the only one on the sideline screaming and hollering is me. Our kids don't panic and our coaching staff doesn't panic. It's just the maturation of this football program. I'm excited for them and I'm proud of them."
The home team rallied to even the score late in the third when quarterback Seth Hildebrand (8-for-19, 154 yards) scored on a 3-yard keeper to set the stage for Delaughter in the final quarter.
The Rockets capped off the scoring late in the contest when Hildebrand hooked up with Logan Hall for a 45-yard strike that pushed the lead to 34-20 with 3:16 left.
-- Reach Ryan Vander sloot at sports@yorkdis patch.com.