Spring Grove gets 'statement win' with 28-21 road defeat of Dallastown
Spring Grove needed one yard to end the game and everyone in the stadium knew who would get the ball.
The Rockets had lined up to kick a field goal with three minutes left and take a 10-point lead, but a Dallastown penalty put the ball just one foot away from a first down. Spring Grove called on running back Zyree Brooks, and despite a Dallastown defense determined to stop him, scored an 8-yard touchdown to secure a 28-21 win on Friday night.
“I just gotta come through for my team. I knew they were gonna look for me. I'm the guy, so I just needed to come through and show up,” Brooks said. “I knew they were gonna fill the box in the middle, so I knew I had to bounce it out. So that's what I did, I just bounced it out and took it to the end zone for the touchdown.”
Brooks certainly was the guy in this game, as he has been all season for the Rockets. The senior racked up 197 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 35 carries. He was crucial in helping the Rockets build an early lead after a strong start to the game.
Spring Grove scored on the first drive of the game with a touchdown toss from Cowan Ruhland to Justin Godman. The Rockets added another score in the second quarter when Andrew Osmun burrowed into the end zone for a 1-yard touchdown.
Dallastown, however, appeared to steal the momentum back when the game got close to halftime.
Senior running back Coleton Mahorney scored a 35-yard touchdown for the Wildcats and junior Kenny Johnson intercepted a pass before halftime. Dallastown got the ball to begin the half and started to take control of the game.
The Wildcats tied the game at 14-14 on a 28-yard touchdown catch by freshman Michael Scott from junior quarterback Owen Strouse and 2-point conversion by Mahorney. A stop on the next possession set up Johnson with a chance to return a punt.
Johnson cramps up: Johnson, however, cramped up at the end of the return and never entered the game again. Dallastown head coach Ron Miller said Johnson’s calf looked like an alien was trying to come through his skin.
The Rockets held the star receiver, who has a scholarship offer from Penn State, among others, to three catches for 24 yards, but Johnson had an interception and ripped a ball away from Brooks on defense.
Without their NCAA Division I-bound playmaker, the Wildcats weren’t able to move the ball well. Mahorney and running back Caleb Fox carried the offense, but couldn’t make the big plays needed to put points on the board.
Two first-half fumbles and a failed fake punt attempt also proved costly for Dallastown.
"We're a big rhythm team and we didn't get into a good rhythm until we got the ball a couple series," Miller said.
After Brooks’ late touchdown put Spring Grove up by two touchdowns, Dallastown made a late comeback run. The Wildcats worked their way down the field and got a touchdown by Ethan Vargas with 35 seconds left.
An onside kick attempt by the Wildcats went awry after the kick missed its target — a Spring Grove player’s helmet — and landed 25 yards downfield, where Brooks fielded it and took a knee.
Mahorney led the Wildcats in rushing with 112 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries. Scott was the leading receiver with eight catches for 87 yards and a touchdown.
Rockets' coach impressed by his team: Spring Grove head coach Kyle Sprenkle was impressed with the resilience his squad showed one week after a big loss to Central York.
“That's why I think this was such a statement win for us because our guys went toe-to-toe with Dallastown and we ended up coming up on top,” Sprenkle said. “Dallastown is a great football team, so I'm very happy with the way we responded.”
Making a statement was the goal for the Rockets on Friday and they did just that. Winning on the road against a Wildcats team that had been beating up opponents all season proved that Spring Grove could compete with talented teams.
“We knew it was gonna be a statement win and we wanted to put the league on notice,” Brooks said. “They thought we were a fluke or we played against easy teams, so this is a good team and we beat them.”
Spring Grove is 6-1 overall and 3-1 in York-Adams Division I. Dallastown fell to 5-3 and 3-2.
The Rockets appear in good position to make the District 3 Class 5-A playoffs. They are No. 4 in the power ratings and the top 14 in the final power ratings will make the district 5-A field. The loss, meanwhile, could prove costly in Dallastown's bid to make the district 6-A bracket. The Wildcats now sit at No. 10 and only the top eight in final 6-A power ratings will make the district playoffs.
Reach Rob Rose at firstname.lastname@example.org.