Dallastown defeated rival Red Lion, 40-27, to earn a share of the York-Adams League Division I championship. Elijah Armold, York Dispatch
The regular-season finale between the Dallastown and Red Lion football looked like it was shaping up for a classic rivalry showdown finish Friday, Nov. 3. The two teams were deadlocked in a tight contest that had seen a number of big, momentum-changing plays.
And then, the fourth quarter happened.
That’s when the Wildcats simply took over before putting away their rivals 40-27 in the annual ‘Football for Freedom’ game on their home turf.
The victory clinched a share of the York-Adams League Division I title as Dallastown. The Wildcats improved to 8-2 on the season and moved their divisional record to 6-1.
York High also finished division play at 6-1 after its 26-19 victory over Central York. The Wildcats last won a division crown in 2015.
“Our kids came up big when we had to. These kids are resilient,” Dallastown head coach Kevin Myers said. “I think we’ve matured in the sense that we just don’t get rattled and realize that it’s not one play; that it’s the sum of all the plays that make the game.”
Huge night from Nyzair Smith: Early in the final frame, Dallastown surrendered the game-tying score as Red Lion’s Zach Crossland rumbled in from 3-yards out for his second touchdown of the night.
But a mere 13 seconds later, not to be outdone, Wildcats standout running back Nyzair Smith took Dallastown’s first play from scrimmage 80 yards to put Dallastown ahead for good at 34-27 with 11:17 left to play.
The lengthy-touchdown run was the fourth of five on the night for Smith, who racked up 226 yards Friday night on 26 carries. His final score was the back-breaker, hurdling a defender and finding the end zone with 4:46 left in the game to round out the scoring.
“It feels good, we’ve been working hard for this since January, it feels awesome,” Nyzair Smith said. “(The Dallastown offensive line) They’re amazing, they’re all seniors. Just the connection we have; they trust in me and I trust in them.”
Smith, who had already set Dallastown’s single-season rushing record a week ago, finished the regular season with 1,888 yards. That total gives Smith the York-Adams League rushing title.
That caps a special season for Smith, who also set Dallastown’s single-game rushing record on Oct. 27 when he put up 369 yards.
Putting it away: After Smith put the Wildcats up by a score early in the fourth quarter, Dallastown received the third of the four Red Lion turnovers they forced on the season. But the Wildcats were unable to ice the game with a short field from its second interception of the night.
A turnover on downs gave the Lions the ball back, still trailing by a score midway through the fourth quarter. But the Dallastown defense was up to the task, forcing a three-and-out.
That’s when Dallastown Raymond Christas burst through the line and block the Lions’ punt attempt, setting up the Wildcats with another short field and chance to put the game away.
Four plays later, Smith finished his five-touchdown night and Dallastown cruised from there.
“Dallastown is a great football team, they’re co-division champs for a reason,” Red Lion head coach Jesse Shay said. “But, I told my guys we certainly didn’t help our cause tonight. …Dallastown is a good enough team, they don’t need our help by turning the ball over four of five times. The moral of this story is, take care of the damn football.”
A tight affair for most of the game: Red Lion looked like it had Dallastown on the ropes late in the second quarter when quarterback Zach Throne found his top target on the night, Denny Dennison, on the left sideline. Dennison took the pass 67 yards for a touchdown that put Red Lion ahead, 20-7, with 5:43 left before halftime.
The two teams traded possessions before Dallastown pulled off its first one-play possession of the night; this time it saw Smith burst through the middle of the Lions defense and speed his way to a 48-yard score with only 1:20 left before intermission.
Red Lion’s second turnover of the night came on the very next play from scrimmage, as Throne surrendered his first interception of the season.
Seven seconds after Smith’s scamper, Dallastown’s William Anderson took an interception 25 yards for a score. That gave the Wildcats a 21-20 lead they would take into the break.
“I saw the screen they kept running over and over again,” Anderson said. “I saw my outside backer, Nate Downey, he went to jump the screen. They saw it, pump faked and then I saw the receiver coming. Next thing I knew it was like tunnel vision. It was like a dream come true; I always dreamt of that, big game like this, it was a dream come true.”
Throne finished the game 13-of-25 for 164 with a pair of touchdowns and a pair of interceptions. Dennison caught nine of those passes for 136 yards and touchdown. Jamel Foster caught the other touchdown when he hauled in a nice 16-yard pass in the corner of the end zone that knotted the game at 7-7 midway through the opening quarter.
Crossland finished with 64 yards on eight carries and pair of touchdowns for Red Lion. Throne rushed the ball 26 times for 119 yards.
Passing game crucial for Wildcats: Myers credited an efficient passing night from Wildcats’ quarterback Brett Smith as another reason that Nyzair Smith put up big numbers.
“Our passing game was huge tonight,” Myers said. “We haven’t thrown for a ton of yards; when you got the line and running back you don’t. But Brett made some terrific throws and we made some terrific catches and that opened things up and allowed Nyzair to do some things later in the game.”
With Red Lion committing to stopping the run, Smith hit passes when needed in an effort to loosen up the Lions’ defense; not allowing them to continually stack the box.
Brett Smith completed nine of his 15 attempts for 88 yards. Red Lion intercepted him once, that turnover leading to Crossland’s game-tying score early in the fourth quarter.
Districts up next: Both teams will likely qualify for next week’s District 3 Class 6-A playoffs, as the Lions entered Friday’s tilt ranked third in the district, while Dallastown came in at the sixth spot.
Friday’s result could possibly see the Wildcats jump a position and Lions fall a spot. If that were to happen, the two rivals would turn around and see each other again on Nov. 10. If that scenario plays out, Red Lion would likely be the fourth-seed and would host their fifth-seeded rivals.
It wouldn’t be anything new to the two clubs, either. As a similar scenario last played out like that in 2010. That year saw the Wildcats victorious in the final game of the regular season before falling to the Lions in the first-round of the playoffs.
Reach Elijah Armold at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dallastown 7 – 14 – 6 – 13 = 40
Red Lion 7 – 13 – 0 – 7 = 27
D – N.Smith 1 run (Groh kick), 8:51
RL – Foster 16 pass from Throne (Workinger kick), 6:38
RL – Crossland 39 run (kick blocked), 10:09
RL – Dennison 67 pass from Throne (Workinger kick), 5:43
D – N.Smith 48 run (Groh kick), 1:20
D – Anderson 25 interception return (Groh kick), 1:13
D – N.Smith 5 run (kick no good), 5:18
RL – Crossland 3 run (Workinger kick), 11:30
D – N.Smith 80 run (Groh kick), 11:17
D – N.Smith 11 run (kick fail), 4:46
First downs: DT 17; RL 17
Rushing: DT 42-264; RL 35-188
Passing yards: DT 88; RL 164
Total yards: DT 352; RL 352
Fumbles-lost: DT 3-0; RL 2-2
Penalties-yards: DT 6-43; RL 4-41
Punts-Average: DT 6-29.0; RL 5-22.6
Rushing: DT N. Smith 26-226, Teyral 3-4, B.Smith 10-27, Strine 2-9, TEAM 1-(-2); RL, Crossland 8-64, Workinger 1-5, Throne 26-119.
Passing: DT B.Smith 9-15-88-0TD-1INT; RL Throne 13-25-164-2TD-2INT.
Receiving: DT Downey 3-29, Ward 2-14, N.Smith 1-9, Cook 1-10, Teyral 2-28; RL, Dennison 9-136, Crossland 2-8, Foster 1-16, Ness 2-4.