While Friday night’s District 3 Class 5-A playoff game between York High and Northern York only took about two hours, it felt like four.
The steady rain at Small Field quickly turned into a torrential downpour in the second half. It was the type of rain that made it seem like everything — including the time — slowed down.
Well, everything except Dayjure Stewart.
The York High running back broke the District 3 playoff record for single-game rushing yards with 468 on 39 carries to lead the Bearcats to a 42-7 victory over Northern York — the program’s first playoff win since 2008.
“To go for 460-some yards in a monsoon is just crazy,” said York High head coach Russ Stoner.
Stewart's record-breaking night: The rushing total surpasses West York’s Brandon Real, who rushed for 406 yards on 31 carries in 2008. Stewart also totaled four rushing touchdowns, scoring from 1, 58, 76 and 86 yards out.
“He’s a stallion,” Stoner said. "He’s an (NCAA) Division I prospect. He’s an FBS guy. I think he’s a Power Five kid.”
The 86-yard dash came with a little more than two minutes remaining in the game and Stewart 24 yards away from the record. The 6-foot, 205-pound senior sprinted past the Polar Bears’ defense, showing elite speed for a high school running back in the fourth quarter of a game played in a near flood.
“The tennis court (workouts) at the beginning of the season kept me in shape,” Stewart said. “Every day at practice we work hard with conditioning to keep us in shape for the fourth quarter.”
Stoner said he was “proud” of the way his team played in the heavy rain.
“It was raining? We didn’t notice,” Stoner joked. “Sometimes weather can neutralize a game. Our kids came out and played hard tonight. I was happy with them and proud of them. Obviously, the conditions were pretty tough”
No. 6-seeded York High (10-1) will play at No. 3-seeded Shippensburg next Friday at 7 p.m. The Greyhounds (10-1) defeated Northeastern 6-0 Friday night.
Bearcats start fast: Stewart, who rushed for 2,240 yards and 32 touchdowns in the regular season, started the game with a 58-yard touchdown run and followed that up with a 76-yard score to give the Bearcats a 14-0 lead less than five minutes into the contest.
“Even though they were 6-4, we knew they were going to be a tough team,” Stewart said. “We knew it was going to be a dogfight. We had to come out and keep working hard and keep pushing.”
Tobee Stokes gave the York-Adams League Division I co-champions a 21-0 lead in the second quarter on a 34-yard touchdown. Quarterback Seth Bernstein then put the Bearcats up 27-0 with less than a minute left in the first half on a 1-yard QB sneak.
Defense shuts down Polar Bears: The No. 11-seeded Polar Bears’ lone touchdown came early in the third quarter. Kyle Swartz, who ran for 126 yards on 27 carries, put Northern in the red zone with a 23-yard scamper, setting up quarterback Jordan Heisey’s 20-yard touchdown run.
Stoner was pleased with his defense’s performance. The Bearcats allowed only 27 yards of offense in the first half and had two red zone stops to force turnovers on downs in the second half.
“When you get the ball down on the goal line and a team scores on you on one play, it shows what kind of defense you have,” Stoner said. “For our defense to put back-to-back stops together, that was a big deal for our kids for confidence.”
Stewart’s one blemish: The Bearcats answered back with a 12-play, 65-yard touchdown drive on which Stewart carried the ball on all 12 plays, capping the drive with a 1-yard plunge.
“It was wet, so I couldn’t juke as much,” Stewart said. “I just wanted to pound the football.”
While Stewart’s performance was about as impressive as possible, it wasn’t flawless. He fumbled three times in the game, two of which were lost to the Polar Bears.
“Those fumbles,” Stoner said, “we can’t have that.”
Even though it was abnormally wet, Stewart agreed it’s something he must clean up if the Bearcats are going to make a run in the postseason.
“I’ve got to hold onto the ball,” Stewart said.
Offensive line leads the way: Stewart gave the credit to his offensive linemen – as any smart running back does – for his performance, especially his final 86-yard run to give him the record.
“My offensive line took their gaps and their reads,” he said. “They work hard in practice, and it worked out tonight.”
On several rushing plays, Stoner said Stewart was able to get to the second level untouched.
“Things went really well, especially in some formations we had, where he got into the secondary pretty quickly,” Stoner said. “Our offensive line, they’re seasoned vets, and most of them are back next year.”
Junior offensive lineman Antonio Jones Jr. said the unit up front takes pride in Stewart’s success.
“It’s an honor,” he said about blocking for Stewart. “All this hard work we did – tennis court (workouts) – it’s all paid off. It’s all for you, Dayjure.”
Dwayne Beady, a junior offensive lineman, said playing in rough conditions is just part of the game.
“It’s football,” he said. “It’s a man’s game.”
Stoner said the convincing victory shows the team is still improving.
“You want to see them get better as the playoffs come,” Stoner said. “To score 42 points in a deluge of water is pretty impressive.”
Northern York 0 0 7 0 — 7
York High 14 13 8 7 — 42
York High: Dayjure Stewart 58-yard run (Yair Rodriguez kick), 9:14 (YH 7, NY 0)
York High: Stewart 76-yard run (Rodriguez kick), 7:15 (YH 14, NY 0)
York High: Tobee Stokes 34-yard run (Rodriguez kick), 5:40 (YH 21, NY 0)
York High: Seth Bernstein 1-yard run (kick failed), 0:21 (YH 27, NY 0)
Northern York: Jordan Heisey 20-yard run (Chris Barrett kick), 9:56 (YH 27, NY 7)
York High: Stewart 1-yard run (Tino Conquest pass from Seth Bernstein), 4:21 (YH 35, NY 7)
York High: Stewart 86-yard run (Rodriguez kick), 2:01 (YH 42, NY 7)
Total offense: 174 yards (25 passing, 149 rushing)
Total offense: 525 yards (0 passing, 525 rushing)
Sacks: 1 for 9 yards
Chris Barrett: 1-4 passing, 13 yards; 5 carries, minus-1 yard (sacked once for minus-9 yards)
Jordan Heisey: 2-5 passing, 12 yards; 5 carries, 13 yards, TD
Kyle Swartz: 27 carries, 126 yards, fumble
Blake Cruz: 1 reception, 10 yards; 2 carries, 2 yards
Luke Horvath: 2 carries, 9 yards
Tim Geiser: 1 reception, 2 yards
Aidan Wenger: 1 reception, 13 yards
Seth Bernstein: 0-1 passing, 2-point conversion pass; 3 carries, 3 yards, TD
Dayjure Stewart: 39 carries, 468 yards, 4 TDs, two fumbles
Rob Rideout: 3 carries, 1 yard, fumble
Tobee Stokes: 4 carries, 47 yards, TD
Tino Conquest: 1 carry, 5 yards; 2-point conversion reception
Tyrell Whitt: 1 carry, 1 yard
Reach Jacob Calvin Meyer at firstname.lastname@example.org