York High head coach Russ Stoner discusses his team's 22-6 win over Shippensburg in the District 3 Class 5-A quarterfinals. JACOB CALVIN MEYER, 717-505-5406/@jcalvinmeyer
CHAMBERSBURG — Tied at 6-6, Shippensburg was orchestrating its most successful offensive drive of the game early in the fourth quarter against York High.
The No. 3-seeded Greyhounds had just given up a touchdown late in the third quarter and started the drive on their own 13-yard line in the District 3 Class 5-A quarterfinal on Friday night.
After a 15-play drive that put the Greyhounds on York High's 24-yard line, Shippensburg (10-2) only gained two yards on its next three plays, forcing a fourth-and-8. Quarterback Zack Manning pitched to running back Adam Houser, who stopped once he got to the edge and threw a near-perfect pass in the end zone to Isaiah Houser.
York High cornerback Tino Conquest, who is listed at 5-feet, 7-inches, but is closer to 5-feet, 5-inches tall, handled the trick play perfectly, swatting the ball out of the air to force a turnover on downs.
Three plays later, Dayjure Stewart did what everyone waited for him to do all night — break away for a long touchdown. Stewart ran 70 yards to put the No. 6-seeded Bearcats up 14-6 en route to a 22-6 victory and a berth to the district semifinals.
"(Stewart) ran the ball harder than I've ever seen him run the ball," said York High head coach Russ Stoner. "It wasn't the long runs. It was the six-, seven-yard gains. It was him getting his shoulder pads square. It was him showing everyone that he was an (NCAA) Division I football player."
On the long touchdown run, Stewart broke the York-Adams League single-season rushing record of 2,845 yards held by Eastern York's Alex Cooley. Stewart totaled 219 yards and three touchdowns on 28 carries to set the new record at 2,927 yards.
"I've got to shoutout to my team," Stewart said. "Without them, I wouldn't be able to perform the way I am. Shoutout to my line...to my wide receivers and my quarterback. We just have to keep pushing forward."
Stoner said what makes Conquest's strong performance better is that it came after a practice where the coach was tough on Conquest, who Stoner added is "as athletic as (a player) can be."
"Last night, I was totally in his face about how he was practicing," Stoner said. "For him to respond the way he responded tonight, I am proud of him. He just competes."
Next week will be the first time the Bearcats will play in a district semifinal since 1988. York High (11-1) will play the winner of Solanco and Cocalico, which is being played Saturday night.
"Our kids figured out how to play each other, and that's what we always keep talking about," Stoner said. "To win that game, the most wins in school history, the first time to win two games in the playoffs, that dates back to 1890."
Slow start: Neither team scored in the first quarter, with York High forcing a turnover on downs on Shippensburg's first drive. The Bearcats stopped a fourth-down run from the 4-yard line to prevent a Greyhounds score.
York High quarterback Seth Bernstein was intercepted on the next drive by Adam Houser, who returned it nearly 60 yards to put the Greyhounds on York High's 21-yard line.
Shippensburg scored four plays later on a 4-yard plunge by House, who ran for 126 yards on 20 carries.
Touchdowns called back: Tobee Stokes then returned the ensuing kickoff for a touchdown, but it was called back on a block-in-the-back penalty. Despite starting the drive on the Greyhounds' 37-yard line, the Bearcats failed to score and turned the ball over on downs.
Shippensburg, which outgained York High by nearly 50 yards, drove into the red zone again, only to fail on fourth down for the second time in the first half.
After both teams traded punts, York High scored on a 32-yard touchdown pass from Bernstein to Rob Rideout on a screen pass, until it was brought back by a peculiar illegal receiver downfield penalty. Bernstein was intercepted on the next play, and the Bearcats went into the locker room at halftime trailing for the first time all season.
"We got robbed on two touchdowns," Stoner said. "We have sideline huddle. We can see what the call was. The call on the kickoff return, that was a terrible call. The screen outside, a terrible call. Our motto is next play, and that's what our kid did. If we get those two scores, you don't know what happens in the second half, but I was really impressed with how we played in the second half."
York High ties game: The Bearcats forced a punt to start the second half and drove 60 yards for their first touchdown of the game.
Two costly Shippensburg penalties put York High in the red zone, and Stewart scored from 13 yards out.
Stoner elected to go for the two-point conversion instead of the extra point, and Bernstein's pass was too far for Rideout. Stoner said the Bearcats "will not have a kicker the rest of the season."
The Greyhounds started their next drive on their own 13-yard line, which began the 16-play drive that ended with Conquest's well-played defense on the halfback pass.
Bearcats force turnover: After Stewart's 70-yard score, and his two-point conversion, to put the Bearcats up 14-6, Shippensburg got the ball back, hoping to mount a long drive to tie the game and send it to overtime.
On the second play of the drive, Rideout, who made more than a dozen tackles on the night, stripped a Shippensburg ball carrier, and Marcellus John recovered to give the Bearcats possession in the red zone.
"Our defense doesn't get enough credit," Stoner said. "We average 41 plays, so our defense at times 100 plays a game. People don't realize, we're giving up 16 points a game. Our defense is extremely young, but they're active and they run to the ball. That's all you can ask in high school football."
Stewart ran for a 5-yard touchdown three minutes later to seal the victory.
Stoner said York High's offensive line proved in the second half why they deserved to be first-team selections in the York-Adams League coaches' all-star team. The list was released last week, and none of the five offensive linemen were first-teamers.
"Our county didn't give any of our linemen first-team all-county," Stoner said. "They just showed who the first-team all-county offensive line is. They played out of their minds in the second half."
York High 0 0 6 16 — 22
Shippensburg 0 6 0 0 — 6
York High: Stewart 70-yard run (Stewart run), 8:18 (YH 14, Ship 6)
Total offense: 248 yards (15 passing, 233 rushing)
Turnovers forced: 1
Sacks: 1 for 7 yards
Total offense: 293 yards (83 passing, 210 rushing)
Turnovers forced: 2
Seth Bernstein: 2-6 passing, 15 yards, 2 INT; 5 carries, 5 yards
Dayjure Stewart: 28 carries, 219 yards, 3 TDs
Rob Rideout: 2 receptions, 15 yards; 1 carry, 9 yards; Forced fumble
Tobee Stokes: 2 carries, 10 yards
Marcellus John: Fumble recovery
Team: 2 carries, -10 yards
Zack Manning: 6-14 passing, 83 yards; 1 carry, minus-7 yards (sacked once for minus-7 yards)
Adam Houser: 0-1 passing; 20 carries, 126 yards, TD; 1 reception, 10 yards; INT
Jacob Loy: 23 carries, 92 yards, fumble
Nick Gustafson: 4 receptions, 69 yards
Isaiah Houser: 1 reception, 4 yards
Team: 1 carry, minus-1 yard
Reach Jacob Calvin Meyer at firstname.lastname@example.org