York Suburban flies past Dover in clash of Division II unbeatens
It was a York-Adams League Division II showdown weeks in the making between Dover and York Suburban.
Both teams entered unbeaten in league play and sitting atop the Division II standings. In all essence, this was billed to be the game that would decide the eventual Division II champion.
Fortunately for Trojan fans and unfortunately for the Eagle faithful that made the trip to Dick May Field, only one side showed up for the divisional clash.
York Suburban scored four times in each of the first two quarters, opening up a 35-point halftime lead and crusing to the 55-27 victory over Dover. With the win, the Trojans move into sole possession of first place in Division II, while the Eagles drop back into second place.
"We knew we had to win tonight in order to control our own destiny and be the only unbeaten team going into Week 9," Suburban coach Andy Loucks said. "So, yeah it was an important game. A very important game."
It didn't take long for the Trojans (4-0 Div. II, 6-2 overall) to display their high-flying aerial attack. Thomas Merkle and Collin Mailman hooked up less than two minutes into the game on a 53-yard touchdown pass to open a 7-0 lead. That was just the start of what would be a first-half performance indicative of a Big 12 school in college.
After Durran Ledbetter answered Mailman's touchdown with a 56-yard catch of his own from quarterback Tad Pequignot to tie the score at 7-7 with just three minutes, 45 seconds left in the first quarter, that's when the Trojans' offense took full control.
Teague Hoffman responded with a 53-yard run to make it 14-7 Suburban just 56 seconds after the Eagles (3-1 Div. II, 4-4 overall) tied it and then only 65 seconds after that, Merkle and Mailman connected for the second time on a 24-yard touchdown. Andrew Hoffman caught a 59-yard touchdown as time expired in the first quarter for Dover to make it 21-14 after the opening frame, but that was basically the last shot the Eagles had in the contest.
Four unanswered scores in the second quarter by the Trojans - including Mailman's third TD grab of the night - quickly turned a would-be shootout into a one-sided blowout. By the time halftime rolled around, Suburban held a 49-14 advantage, inducing the running clock for the entire second half.
"We were at 21-14 before we blew it open," Merkle said. "They're a good team. They fought hard, but we just had some big plays on them tonight that they couldn't come back from."
Loucks essentially called off the dogs in the second half, only leaving his starters in for one possession. But, that didn't stop his defense from forcing its fifth of six turnovers in the game, this time, a fumble. On the play, Dustin Knaub made a crunching tackle and then scooped the ball up and returned it 32 yards to make it 55-14.
That was the only score the Trojans had in the second half, but by that point, it was just a matter of running out the clock for Suburban. Cole Jesmer caught two touchdowns from Pequignot in the fourth quarter, including one at the final buzzer, to make the final score a little more respectable, but the outcome was already a foregone conclusion.
To explain just how dominant Suburban was and how many big plays it reeled off, at one point, the offense had run 15 plays and scored five touchdowns. Merkle needed 441 yards passing to set the York County all-time record and finished the night with 216 yards in two and a half quarters, leaving him just 225 yards from breaking the record. And Mailman only needed four catches to rack up 161 yards receiving, with his final grab the only one that didn't wind up as a touchdown, but still went for 40 yards.
It was the type of performance that defines a possible champion - playing your best when the games mean the most. The Trojans now control their own destiny and if they play anything like they did on Friday night, it shouldn't be much of a problem becoming Division II champions.
"We were having a ton of fun," Merkle said. "Every game you want to come out and score like that. We thought we were going to be in for a shootout when it was 21-14, but we broke a couple plays open, the defense got some turnovers. It was just a fun night overall.
Dover 14 0 0 13 - 27
York Suburban 21 28 6 0 - 55
YS, Mailman 53-yard catch from Merkle (Atkinson kick), 10:26
D, Ledbetter 56-yard catch from Pequignot (Bradley kick), 3:45
YS, Hoffman 53-yard run (Atkinson kick), 2:49
YS, Mailman 24-yard catch from Merkle (Atkinson kick), 1:44
D, Hoffman, 59-yard TD catch from Pequignot (Bradley kick), 0:00
YS, Henderson 72-yard run (Atkinson kick), 11:38
YS, Mailman 44-yard catch from Merkle (Atkinson kick), 9:46
YS, Gettle 44-yard run (Atkinson kick), 5:08
YS, Edwards 6-yard run (Atkinson kick), 2:17
YS, Knaub 32-yard fumble recovery (Failed conversion), 5:47
D, Jesmer 16-yard catch from Pequignot (Bradley kick), 8:47
D, Jesmer 17-yard catch from Pequignot (No extra point try), 0:00
Category D YS
Rushes/Yard 26-82 22-264
Passing 16-28-4 11-16-4
Passing Yards 310 216
Total Yards 392 480
First Downs 13 15
Penalties/Yards 3-25 1-15
Fumbles/Lost 4-3 1-0
Punts/Average 1-46 4-30.5
RUSHING: D - Pequignot 15-76, Ledbetter 6-14, Jesmer 5-(-)8. YS - Henderson 9-107, Hoffman 3-62, Gettle 3-56, Edwards 4-38, Friend 1-2, Taylor 1-0, Groncki 1-(-)1.
PASSING: D - Pequignot 16-28-310, 4. YS, Merkle 9-12-208, 4, Igo 2-4-8, 0.
RECEIVING: D - Ledbetter 5-132, Hoffman 5-87, Snyder 3-58, Jesmer 2-33, Watkins 1-0. YS - Mailman 4-161, Smith 2-32, Knaub 1-11, Frantz 1-7, Henderson 3-1, Gettle 1-1.
- Reach Patrick Strohecker at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow on Twitter @P_Strohecker