Late surge lifts Dallastown past Northeastern in battle of unbeatens
Homecoming week is supposed to be a fun one for high schoolers.
The entire week is filled with exciting events, highlighted by the Friday night football game and then the dance the next night.
This weekend, among some others, was Dallastown's and on Friday night the undefeated Wildcats hosted unbeaten Northeastern in a battle of two Division I title contenders in the York-Adams League. With the field packed and fans enjoying the festivities, the Dallastown football players were the only ones not having a good night.
At least for three quarters.
The Wildcats trailed the Bobcats 12-0 as the fourth quarter began, but 15 unanswered points scored by Dallastown in the final quarter vaulted it past Northeastern and to a 15-12 victory. The win improved the Wildcats to 6-0 on the season and 3-0 in Division I. The Bobcats suffered their first setback of the year, falling to 5-1 overall and 2-1 in Division I.
"They were the aggressors for three-quarters of the game," Dallastown head coach Kevin Myers said. "And then the defense started stepping up a little bit and then we kind of got back into the rut where we're like, 'Ok, who's going to make a play?'"
The first big play came from senior Jordan Burns, who recovered a fumble early in the fourth quarter to spark the Wildcats. The ensuing Dallastown possession was capped by a Cade Gold 11-yard touchdown run to finally get the Wildcats on the board and cut the Northeastern lead to only 12-7 with nine minutes, seven seconds remaining.
After the Dallastown defense came up with another stop, the Wildcats took back over and continued where they left off on their previous possession. After Gold hit Jawaun McMillan on a fourth-and-four to move the chains, he found McMillan again two plays later for the go-ahead eight-yard touchdown. Dallastown added the two-point conversion to stretch its lead to 15-12 with 4:45 to play and it would be enough to seal the win. Gold put the final nail in the coffin with a big 52-yard run on third-and-16 that allowed the Wildcats to run a few more plays and let time expire.
"It wasn't pretty, but in the end, good teams find ways to win games," Gold said. "When things go wrong, we just stick to our fundamentals and we come up with a victory like that. It's what coach preaches and that's what we did."
For three quarters, Dallastown only had 66 yards of total offense. In the fourth quarter alone, it had 155.
Gold was right, the game wasn't pretty, especially for a showdown between two unbeaten teams who are both considered strong candidates for a league title. The game saw 21 penalties get called for 190 yards, 135 of which went against the Bobcats.
The score was only 3-0 Northeastern at halftime, courtesy of a Brandon Artman 30-yard field goal. He tacked on a second field goal, this time from 40 yards midway through the third quarter to push the Bobcats' lead to 6-0. Then, quarterback Shannon Valenti connected with senior wide receiver David Ankney on a 66-yard touchdown pass with 1:51 left in the third quarter to put Northeastern up 12-0. At that point, little was going the way of the Wildcats and a comeback looked bleak.
"I think it was a gut check for our team right there," Gold said. "And that shows how much heart our team has. To come out there and put together a win like that after being down and almost out of the game. So, that's a compliment to all of the team. We couldn't have done it without anybody."
Northeastern 0 3 9 0 — 12
Dallastown 0 0 0 15 — 15
N, Artman 30-yard field goal, 7:04
N, Artman 40-yard field goal, 5:30
N, Valenti 66-yard pass to Ankney (2-point conversion failed), 1:51
D, Gold 11-yard run (Pew kick), 9:07
D, Gold 8-yard pass to McMillan (2-point conversion good), 4:45
CategoryNDRushes/Yard33-13430-117Passing7-13-118-30-1Passing Yards151104Total Yards285221First Downs914Penalties/Yards15-1356-55Fumbles/Lost3-15-0Punts/Average3-34.74-33.8
RUSHING: N — Johnson 11-59, Willis 2-29, Valenti 9-27, Whack 6-13, Cooper 1-5, Reeser 4-1. D, Gold 14-84, Callahan 7-31, Garrity 2-3, Marks 4-1, DeVance 3-(-)2.
PASSING: N — Valenti 7-13-151, 1. D — Gold 17-29-119, 1, Pew 1-1-(-15), 0.
RECEIVING: N — Ankney 2-82, Wigginton 1-27, Zirkle 1-16, Butler 2-15, Johnson 1-11. D — Jansen 7-42, Garcia 3-31, Moore 2-8, McMillan 4-7, DeVance 1-1, Garrity 1-0.
Reach Patrick Strohecker at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow on Twitter @P_Strohecker