York Catholic drops double-OT thriller to rival Delone Catholic, 31-28

Ryan Vandersloot
For the York Dispatch
York Suburban against York Catholic during their football game in Spring Garden on Friday, Sept.9, 2022.

It was a tale of two halves for the York Catholic football squad Friday night against parochial rival Delone Catholic.

It was also a tale of two kicks. One was good and the other was … well, not so much.

After each team scored on their first overtime possession, the Irish had a chance to take the lead in the second OT with a 27-yard field goal by John Watson. The attempt, however, was blocked by the visiting Squires, giving the visitors a chance to win it.

Three plays later, sophomore Nolan Kruse was positioned to win it with a 24-yard attempt. After a pair of penalties – one on Delone for a false start and one on the Irish for encroachment – Kruse sent his team into a frenzy by connecting on his 24-yard field goal to give the Squires a thrilling 31-28 triumph.

“We’ll have to rebound and get back after it next week,” Irish coach Brad Hayek said.

After a dreadful first half in which the Irish were held to just 71 total yards and no points, York Catholic's players knew they had to change things up if they wanted to make it game.

All it took was a heavy dose of Levan McFadden to do the trick. The senior – and heart and soul of the Irish – shook off a sluggish first half by putting his team completely on his back in the second half, leading his team back from a 14-point deficit.

McFadden’s incredible performance – 19 caries for 254 yards, 5 catches for 18 yards and three touchdowns – was somewhat negated as the Squires rallied in the fourth quarter to even the score and ultimately prevail in overtime.

The outcome was the second instance of a crushing defeat in extra time this season for York Catholic. The Irish dropped a 20-17 battle with Camp Hill back in Week 2 in overtime.

“I told the guys that we made a lot of mistakes,” Hayek said. “We have to eliminate the mistakes, and I think, if we eliminate some of those and make some plays, that we’ll be fine.”

A more complete game would also help. The Irish failed to generate much offense over the first 24 minutes of action before McFadden, who was dinged up several times during the contest, came to life in the second half.

Limited to just 50 total yards in the first half, McFadden tallied 222 over the final two quarters to bring life to his squad. That didn’t surprise Hayek one bit.

“This was one of his top (performances) for sure,” Hayek said. “That kid just lays it out on the field every game. He plays hard and he doesn’t come off, but a lot of our guys don’t come off. But he’s put in the effort obviously because we’re using him in different motions and things like that.”

While McFadden -- who had nine runs of at least 10 yards and four over 30 yards -- was a big-play threat, the Squires were content to use a ground-and-pound attack to chew up yards and clock. The duo of Brady Dettinburn and Gage Zimmerman combined for 251 yards on 44 attempts, with each scoring a touchdown in the first half.

After McFadden scored his third touchdown with a 48-yard run early in the fourth quarter to put the Irish up 21-14, the Delone boys turned to QB Denver Ostrum to get them even. Ostrum hit Zimmerman for a 25-yard gain and found tight end Noah Crawford for a 35-yard score to deadlock the contest at 21-21 with 8:40 remaining in regulation.

The Irish struggled to move the ball down the stretch, and after a Delone punt pinned York Catholic inside its own 1-yard line, the hosts had to punt it right back, giving the Squires great field position. Delone Catholic drove inside the 10 with under a minute left, seemingly just a run, pass or kick away from claiming victory in regulation.

But with 16 seconds left on the clock, Ostrum attempted a pass, but his lob was picked off by Emmanuel Lucena in the end zone for a game-saving touchback.

“That was a great play for him,” Hayek said. “And he needed that.”

What Hayek and his squad need now is to finish the regular season strong. York Catholic dropped to 2-4 overall and 2-1 in York-Adams Division III with the setback, while the Squires improved to 3-3 overall and 3-0 in the division.

“You win some of these and you lose some of these,” Hayek said. “You just have to regroup. We have four games to go and we still have a chance to get into the (District 3 Class 2A) playoffs. We just have to do our thing.”