The Lions jumped out to a 26-0 lead before the Fighting Irish even obtained a first down.
HERSHEY — There weren't a whole lot of similarities between Friday's District 3-A championship game between York Catholic and Camp Hill and last year's showdown.
Perhaps the only thing that stayed the same was the end result. Last year, the Lions defeated the Fighting Irish in a 63-49 shootout. On Friday, the point total was much more tame, comparatively speaking, but it was still Camp Hill coming away with the 40-28 victory and capturing a second straight District 3-A crown in front of 1,413 fans at Hersheypark Stadium.
"You thought that third time is a charm," York Catholic head coach Eric Depew said. "You thought maybe that we'd get it done, but, you know, we played an excellent football game the week before to get here, but they were physical and I was expecting a little more of that physicality earlier in the game, but we brought it a little too late."
While the score indicates that the Fighting Irish (6-6) lost by only 12 points, the game played out much differently. The Lions (11-1) jumped out to a 19-0 lead after the first quarter and built it to 26-0 in the second quarter before York Catholic even picked up a first down. When the Fighting Irish did, they did it in style, scoring on an 81-yard pass from senior quarterback Daniel Yokemick to senior Luke Brennan to make it 26-7.
But, that success was short-lived. Camp Hill answered right back, scoring with 1 minute, 26 seconds left in the first half to take a 33-7 advantage into the break.
The game played out much the same to begin the second half, with the Lions scoring the only points in the third quarter to build a 40-7 advantage. Running back Bill Williams picked up a fumble and somersaulted into the end zone on the play, making it his fifth touchdown of the game. He also ripped off a 70-yard run to open the game's scoring, caught 35- and 62-yard passes and also ran one in from 2 yards out in the first half to make his mark on the game.
But, to York Catholic's credit, it didn't lie down. Even with the result well in hand for Camp Hill, the Fighting Irish kept fighting, scoring three times in a 5:12 span in the fourth quarter to make the end score more respectable.
First, Andrew Polson ran one in from a yard out to give York Catholic some consolation in the game. Then, after holding the Lions and forcing them to punt, Jakkar Kinard scampered from 21 yards out to earn himself a well-deserved touchdown. Then, Sean Lamont capped off the scoring with a 9-yard carry to bring the game to its final outcome.
"We never, ever quit," Brennan said. "We will never, ever quit. A lot of games, we'll just start too slow to make (a deficit) back up and the clock quits on us."
With the exception of Williams' 70-yard run and 62-yard catch-and-run score, the Fighting Irish actually did a respectable job keeping Camp Hill's high-flying offense from breaking off any big, game-changing plays. Lions' senior quarterback and Michigan commit Michael Shuster completed 19 of 29 passes for 293 yards and two touchdowns, but the York Catholic defense also picked him off twice. Sophomore Zack Kuntz, who's rated the No. 1 recruit in the nation at tight end for the Class of 2018, had five catches for 52 yards, compared to last year's eight-catch, 190-yard and two-TD effort in the championship game.
For the Fighting Irish, Brennan led the way with six catches for 124 yards and a touchdown, while also making all four extra points. Kinard finished the afternoon with 115 yards on 20 carries and a touchdown, while Yokemick passed for 173 yards on 10 of 24 passing.
For the senior class, the game marks a bitter end to a successful career, left with but one void. This was the third straight time York Catholic made it to Hershey for the District 3-A championship game, coming up short every time. It also sets the Fighting Irish back to 1-6 all-time in district title matches, with their only win coming in the inaugural year for the playoffs in 1982.
"Obviously, we're heartbroken," Brennan said. "Third time in a row that we've come here and got rejected right at the last stage. But, I can't thank my team enough for the great season they've given me. I'll remember this year for the rest of my life."
York Catholic - 0 7 0 21 - 28
Camp Hill - 19 14 7 0 - 40
CH - Williams 70-yard run (extra point missed), 7:59
CH - J. Williamson 7-yard catch from Shuster (two-point conversion failed), 1:58
CH - Williams 35-yard catch from Shuster (Resuta kick), 0:10
CH - Williams 2-yard run (Resuta kick), 8:59
YC - L. Brennan 81-yard catch from Yokemick (L. Brennan kick), 7:34
CH - Williams 62-yard catch from Shuster (Resuta kick), 1:26
CH - Williams recovers fumble and runs it 6 yards (Resuta kick), 5:47
YC - Polson 1-yard run (L. Brennan kick), 5:29
YC - Kinard 21-yard run (L. Brennan kick), 1:27
YC - Lamont 9-yard run (L. Brennan kick), 0:17
Team Stats YC CH
Rushes/Yards: 46-221 28-145
Passing: 10-25, 0 19-32, 3
Passing Yards: 173 293
Total Yards: 394 438
First Downs: 20 20
Fumbles/Lost: 1-1 2-0
Penalties/Yards: 3-30 9-60
Punts/Avg.: 6-31.8 3-36.3
Rushing: YC - Kinard 20-115, Yokemick 15-41, Dormer 3-27, Lamont 3-22, Polson 4-12, Creisher 1-4. CH - Williams 11-103, J. Williamson 3-37, Vallati 1-12, Buffington 1-6, Shuster 8-4, Guyer 2-(-)4, Newman 2-(-)15.
Passing: YC - Yokemick 10-24-173, 1, Bauhof 0-1-0, 0. CH - Shuster 19-29-293, 2, Williams 0-1-0, 0, Buffington 0-2-0, 0.
Receiving: YC - L. Brennan 6-124, R. Brennan 2-24, Creisher 2-15, Bauhof 1-10. CH - Williams 4-112, Vallati 5-79, Kuntz 5-52, Fetrow 2-23, Beddow 1-15, Williamson 2-12.
- Reach Patrick Strohecker at email@example.com