GLEN ROCK — It's not often that a division title in the York-Adams League is decided by a head-to-head contest in Week 10.
That's exactly how things panned out this year, however, when both Dover and Susquehannock headed into their regular-season finale with unbeaten 5-0 records in Division II.
Without the possibility of a tie, the division crown would definitely be decided Friday, Nov. 4, when the Warriors hosted the Eagles in what turned out to be an instant
Trailing for nearly the first three quarters of action, Susquehannock turned things around starting in the fourth quarter. Daniel Clapp (12 carries, 77 yards) scored
on a 1-yard run with 5:19 left in regulation, a score that proved to be the difference as the Warriors rallied back from a 10-point deficit to claim a thrilling 24-17 triumph on Senior Night.
The victory secured the first York-Adams League division title for the Susquehannock program since the 2006 club won the Division II title.
That was not the end of the good news for the Warriors. The triumph also locked up a District 3 Class 4-A playoff berth for the Warriors, who improved to 8-2 overall and 6-0 in Division II. It appears as if Susquehannock will play host to East Pennsboro in the first round of districts.
Dover, which had an outside shot at qualifying for the District 3 5-A playoffs with a victory, fell to 6-4 overall and 5-1 in division action.
"This is just awesome for our program here," an emotional Susquehannock head coach Steve Wiles said.
Indeed it was. During a season in which the Warriors rallied back from a 28-7 deficit against West York to win in the final moments, Friday's comeback against a solid
Dover outfit was just another remarkable feather in the cap of the fairy-tale season for Susquehannock.
"We believed in ourselves all year," Warrior quarterback Hunter Sentz said. "But not many others did. I think that one of the papers ranked us last in the division coming into the year, but we believed."
Much of the rise of Wiles' squad can be attributed to the decision by the veteran coach to turn the reins over to Sentz. Having not played the previous two years, Sentz stepped in after halftime of the team's victory over Biglerville back in September.
Since that moment, the Warriors have only lost one time.
"He's been amazing," Wiles said of his quarterback, who finished with a modest stat line that included 94 yards passing and 27 yards rushing. "His athleticism out on
the edge really helps us out. Whether he runs it or not, he gets himself an extra second or two to throw the ball. He's a real smart kid and makes some good decisions."
While Clapp finished with three touchdowns — the first of which came on a 70-yard kickoff return after Dover took a 10-0 lead in the second-quarter — it was Sentz who
helped set up the big running-back for his two fourth-quarter scores.
A 30-yard hook-up with Ethan Schammel moved the Warriors deep inside of Dover territory late in the third. After a pass interference penalty on a fourth-down play gave
the Warriors a fresh set of downs, Sentz ran for seven yards to the Eagles 2. Clapp scored the game-tying touchdown seconds later to even the score.
The visitors appeared to be in good shape to regain the lead on the ensuing possession. A 45-yard run by Derek Arevalo (eight carries, 71 yards) on the first play of
the series moved the Eagles from their own 30 to deep inside Susquehannock territory.
But, in a game of this magnitude, it was the miscues that really did Dover in. The Eagles fumbled the ball five times — none of which resulted in turnovers. But the lost yardage on several of those plays, added in with two interceptions and a few costly penalties, like the one on that fourth-down play late in the third-quarter, ended up costing the Eagles.
"I'm not sure they did things as much as we did things to shoot ourselves in the foot," Dover coach Wayne Snelbaker said. "We did things that hurt us here and there
and that really just gave them the momentum."
Such was the case when Dover was left with a fourth-and-5 from the Susquehannock 20 in the fourth quarter. The snap to quarterback Justin Johnson, who was in the shotgun, sailed over Johnson's head. The Warrior defense pounded on the Eagle QB quickly, resulting in a loss of 14 yards and, most importantly, a turnover on downs.
Sentz went back to work on what turned out to be the eventual game-winning drive. He mixed in runs of seven and 18 yards to earn a pair of first-downs before connecting with Schammel, who was among a pair of Dover defenders, on a 33-yard pass play that moved the ball down to the Dover 1.
Seconds later Clapp was standing in the end zone looking up at a scoreboard that now showed the home team ahead with 5:19 left.
“Ethan and I also talk in practice," Sentz said. "He's always telling me to just throw it up and let him make a play. And he did.”
The Warrior defense, which surrendered 318 total yards, came up big when the Eagles tried to tie the contest up late. They sacked Johnson for a 9-yard loss on a
first-down play, setting up another crucial fourth-down play moments later.
Johnson, who threw for 184 yards, overthrew his intended target in Brady Bowman (five catches, 81 yards) on that play, giving the ball back to the home team with 1:50
Susquehannock was unable to run out the clock and had to punt the ball back to Dover with under a minute left. But, just like they did throughout the fourth quarter, the Warriors forced another turnover on downs to seal the triumph.
“It was a fun way to end the season," Snelbaker said. "We couldn't have asked for anything better. Both teams fought hard, but we just came up short."
Dover 7 3 7 0 - 17
Susquehannock 0 7 3 14 - 24
D - Andrew Hoffman 32 pass from Justin Johnson (Devin Crone kick), 5:30
D - Crone 25 FG, 8:08
S - Daniel Clapp 70 kickoff return (Dustin Shipley kick), 7:55
D - Derek Arevalo 18 run (Crone kick), 9:19
S - Shipley 26 FG, 6:46
S - D. Clapp 2 run (Shipley kick), 11:32
S - D. Clapp 1 run (Shipley kick), 5:19
First downs 18 10
Rushing 35-134 33-136
Passing 13-24-1 9-18-2
Passing yards 184 122
Total yards 318 258
Fumbles-lost 5-0 1-0
Penalties-yards 4-39 4-52
Punting 1-31.0 2-46.0
Rushing: D - Justin Johnson 16-3, Brandon Lawyer 11-60, Derek Arevalo 8-71; S - Daniel Clapp 12-77, Hunter Sentz 9-27, Ben Trego 5-14, Daron Brown 4-15, Kyle Orndorff 2-4, Alec Kramer 1-(-1).
Passing: D - Justin Johnson 13-24-1-184; S - Hunter Sentz 8-17-2-94, Ethan Schammel 1-1-0-28.
Receiving: D - Brady Bowman 5-81, Andrew Hoffman 5-60, Derek Arevalo 2-37, Shaun Hinkle 1-6; S - Ben Trego 4-30, Ethan Schammel 2-63, Kenny Rhyne 1-28, Daron Brown 1-6, Alec Kramer 1-(-5).
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at email@example.com.