FAWN GROVE — In recent years, a trip to Fawn Grove to face the Kennard-Dale football team usually meant an easy win for opposing teams in York-Adams League Division II.
However, with the Rams off to a surprisingly strong start through the first half of the season, they've come to make home games no easy task for visiting teams.
So, when Dover, the proverbial favorite to win the division entering the year, came to town on Friday, Oct. 6, in a battle for first place in Division II, it presented two different storylines for the game. On the Eagles' side, it was a chance for them to go on the road and secure a win, proving they are the definitive team to beat. For K-D, it was a chance to show that it's hot start wasn't a flash in the pan and it's a serious contender for the division crown.
At the end of the game, it was Dover who made the boldest statement, coming away with a 21-7 victory to improve to 4-2 on the year and 3-0 in Division II, while dropping the Rams to 3-3 on the year and 1-2 in league play.
The win for the Eagles was their fourth in a row, while the loss for K-D was its second consecutive.
"It feels good, man," Dover junior running back Brandon Lawyer said. "Winning feels good. ...They're a good team, but we just came up with the win today."
There was nothing flashy about how the Eagles went about their win. It was a grind-it-out type of performance, with both teams searching for one or two big plays per drive to ignite the offenses.
In the end, Dover was the team that came up with the most key plays, all stemming on one play call that continued to work.
For the Eagles, it was the slant across the middle from quarterback Justin Johnson to Derek Arevalo. Every time Dover faced a big spot on offense, it went to that play. The third and final time the Eagles used it, came in the fourth quarter, helping them put away the game.
Leading 14-7 midway through the fourth quarter, Dover needed to pick up a first down. The Eagles dialed up the slant, with Arevalo hauling in a 30-yard catch, which went on to set up the game-clinching four-yard touchdown run from Lawyer to seal the victory.
"We found a spot in the middle that was open and they were kind of cheating over, double covering me to the left," Arevalo said. "Just cheating over to the side, kept the middle wide open and as soon as the coach on top of the pressbox called down to the coach to call post, we audibled to the post and it was wide open down the middle."
It was one of the few plays that allowed the offense to dictate the game in one that was otherwise controlled by the defenses.
Slow start: After neither team could break through in the first quarter, three relatively big plays provided the scoring in the second quarter.
Kennard-Dale opened the scoring on the first play from scrimmage of the second quarter, a 15-yard Dalton Stike run to go ahead 7-0. However, Dover responded with a pair of scoring drives, both coming on the slant across the middle.
Three minutes after Stike put the Rams in front, Johnson hit Arevalo for a 30-yard TD to tie the game at 7-7. Then, in the final minute before halftime, the duo connected again on the same call, this time for 25 yards to put Dover in front 14-7 at the halftime break.
Strong Dover defense: The Rams' only scoring drive came on their second possession of the game and it was their only real highlight of the night.
After moving the ball well on the first two possessions, K-D struggled to find any offensive rhythm the rest of the way. The Eagle defense stymied the Rams attack, eventually narrowing in on their run game, loading up the box and forcing punt after punt by K-D.
"That wing T is a tough offense to defend," Dover head coach Wayne Snelbaker said. "If you look up the yards we gave up rushing, it was below 100 and I think they were averaging well over that."
On the flip side, the Eagles' run game is what kept them moving forward, luring the Rams' defense up to the line, opening up the passing game. Lawyer had a big night on the ground, rattling off 126 rushing yards on 18 attempts, with the touchdown to wrap up the victory serving as the bow on top of a strong performance. Johnson added 63 yards on the ground to go with his 127 passing yards and two touchdowns, both to Arevalo.
Arevalo had 127 yards of total offense, hauling in six passes for 91 yards and rushing for 36 yards.
As for shutting down the running game of K-D like Snelbaker mentioned, the Rams were held to just 70 rushing yards on the night.
"They were bringing more guys into the box than we could block," K-D head coach Chris Grube said. "Those first two series, we grounded the ball and moved it pretty successfully. Then, they made some defensive adjustments, we went to our spread packages and our offense suffered from there."
DOVER 21, KENNARD-DALE 7
KD - Stike 15-yard run (Potts kick), 11:54
Do - Arevalo 30-yard catch (Crone kick), 8:38
Do - Arevalo 25-yard catch (Crone kick), :43
Do - Lawyer 4-yard run (Crone kick), 4:04
First Downs: Do, 15. KD, 6
Rushes-Yards: Do, 41-227. KD, 30-70
Passing Yards: Do, 127. KD, 7
Completions-Attempts-INTs: Do, 10-18-0. KD, 1-9-0
Penalties-Yards: Do, 10-95. KD, 5-30
Punts-Average: Do, 1-24.0. KD, 5-33.0
Fumbles/Lost: Do, 2-1. KD, 3-0.
RUSHING: Do, Lawyer 18-126. Johnson 16-63. Arevalo 6-36. Leib 1-2. KD, Stike 11-50. McCleary 8-18. Shrewsbury 2-9. Rose 1-1. Gibney 2-(-)3. Hulslander 6-(-)5.
PASSING: Do, Johnson 10-18-127, 2 TDs. KD Hulslander 1-9-7, 0 TDs.
RECEIVING: Do, Arevalo 6-91. Hoffman 1-26. Lawyer 3-10. KD, McCleary 1-7.
— Reach Patrick Strohecker at firstname.lastname@example.org