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Dallastown defense comes up big on final play to down South Western

PATRICK STROHECKER 505-5402
YorkDispatch

HANOVER - Three Friday's from now, we'll know the true impact of Friday's Division I clash between Dallastown and South Western.

But, at least for the night, what we did learn is that the Wildcats are the last remaining unbeaten team in Division I play.

Dallastown withstood a late surge by the Mustangs and some final-second trickery to earn the road victory on Friday night, 29-21. The win pushed the Wildcats to 7-0 on the season and 4-0 in Division I. The loss sank South Western to 5-2 overall and 3-1 in league play.

"First and foremost, South Western is a heck of a team," Dallastown head coach Kevin Myers said. "They're a classy team, well, well-coached and made some nice adjustments at halftime. They played very well, just we were able to take advantage of some things in the first half."

In a game that started out looking like a blowout, it came down to one final interception in the endzone by Wildcats' senior Jake Jansen to seal Dallastown's biggest win of the year. Just prior to that, the Mustangs got the ball into position to potentially tie the game up on a catch-and-lateral play between receiver Noah Staub and Jeff Green. Staub caught Brock Geiman's pass 10 yards downfield and as he was being wrapped up, flipped the ball back to Green, who raced the next 30 yards, down to the Wildcat 17 yard line. But, that was all the further South Western would drive, failing on two separate plays to punch the ball into the endzone.

"We just made it up," Mustangs' coach Damian Poalucci said about the trick play. "Nothing that we practiced."

The wild ending capped off a game that was deserving of a close finish, considering both teams were tied for first place in Division I going in and also the two preseason favorites to win the title. Now, the Mustangs will have some work to do over the final three weeks to chase down the Wildcats.

The game started sloppily for South Western after it fumbled on its second possession inside its own 10 yard line. That allowed Zion DeVance to scamper in from a yard out and give Dallastown an early 7-0 advantage. Quarterback Cade Gold doubled his team's lead four minutes later with a two-yard run and had it looking like the Wildcats would run away with it.

But, Green responded immediately, getting the Mustangs on the board just 19 seconds later on a 68-yard run, cutting the lead to 14-6. Dallastown added another touchdown, this time Jake Garrity punched it in from two-yards out, taking a 21-6 advantage into the halftime break.

After neither team did anything offensively in the third quarter, South Western began its comeback bid early in the fourth quarter on another long Green touchdown. This time, Geiman connected with him through the air for 44 yards and had the Mustangs back within a score at 21-13. However, Gold, like he's done so many times this year, responded. Less than a minute after Green's long catch-and-run score, Gold scampered 54 yards to find pay dirt. After a two-point conversion, the Wildcats seemingly had the game in hand at 29-13.

"Cade is a great young man, but also, there's 10 other guys out there making those blocks," Myers said about Gold's ability to come up with timely plays. "It's hard to describe what Cade is, but he's a heck of an athlete and heck of a competitor."

But, with 3:41 to play, Geiman and Staub connected for a 21-yard score and also converted the two-point conversion to bring South Western back to within one possession. That set up for the crazy finish, in which the Mustangs began on their own 16 yard line with just over a minute to play. The Dallastown defense prevailed, however, proving its ability to come up with big stops at the biggest moments, once again.

Over the last two weeks, the Wildcats have beaten, arguably, their two toughest challengers for the Division I title - Northeastern last week and South Western this week. And with a full-game lead over the rest of the division, Myers' Dallastown squad is in the driver's seat to repeat as Division I champions with three weeks to go.

He just doesn't look at it that way.

"They're all tough, brother," he said. "Listen, every team we played is good in their own right. They really are. And I know what people are saying, New Oxford is going to come out (next Friday) and their going to want to knock the Wildcats off. Plain and simple. We gotta prepare and I've been telling the kids since we started league play, every week is championship week."

Dallastown 14 7 0 8 - 29

South Western 6 0 0 15 - 21

First Quarter

DT, DeVance 1-yard run (Pew kick), 7:08

DT, Gold 2-yard run (Pew kick), 1:46

SW, Green 68-yard run (kick failed), 1:27

Second Quarter

DT, Garrity 2-yard run (Pew kick), 5:45

Third Quarter

No Scoring

Fourth Quarter

SW, Green 44-yard catch from Geiman (Sneeringer kick), 8:44

DT, Gold 54-yard run (two-point conversion good), 7:47

SW, Staub 21-yard catch from Geiman (two-point conversion good), 3:41

Team Statistics

Category DT SW

Rushes/Yard 49-255 25-166

Passing 4-8-0 15-32-2

Passing Yards 41 239

Total Yards 296 405

First Downs 11 17

Penalties/Yards 13-100 8-82

Fumbles/Lost 1-0 3-1

Punts/Average 6-34.7 4-29.3

Individual Statistics

RUSHING: DT - Gold 20-135, DeVance 15-53, Callahan 6-44, Garrity 6-18, Jansen 1-4, Marks 1-1. SW - Green 1-68, Geiman 7-34, Johnson 7-27, Francis 3-12, Hughes 3-10, Williams 1-8, Harbison 1-4, Fulmore 1-3.

PASSING: DT - Gold 4-8-41, 0. SW - Geiman, 15-32-239, 2.

RECEIVING: DT - Jansen 2-27, Garcia 1-12, Moore 1-2. SW - Green 5-121, Staub 9-105, Hughes 1-13.

- Reach Patrick Strohecker at pstrohecker@yorkdispatch.com; follow on Twitter @P_Strohecker