York Catholic rallies for last-minute win over Fairfield
The Fighting Irish prevailed with a third-string quarterback to keep their slim playoff hopes alive.
At any level of football, backups need to be prepared to play at a moment’s notice. The good news for York Catholic sophomore Evan Kipple is that the third-string quarterback had some time to prepare.
Made aware that both LeVan McFadden and Mason Boyer would not be eligible to participate for the Fighting Irish in Friday’s contest with York-Adams Division III rival Fairfield, Kipple was thrust into the world of "next-man up."
While most inexperienced players tend to get caught up in the moment, Kipple was a cool customer in his first varsity start. He connected on nine of his 10 pass attempts, throwing for a modest 91 yards but coming through with a game-winning 2-yard pass to fellow sophomore Jack Lawrence with 18.8 seconds left to give York Catholic a thrilling 17-10 victory.
“It was awesome,” Kipple said. “This was my first chance to play, and to do it with one of my best friends was pretty cool.”
The week of practice seemed to be helpful for Kipple, as the York Catholic youngster never seemed out of place all night.
“I found out last weekend,” Kipple said. “I got a text saying that both of our quarterbacks were ineligible, so I knew that I would get my chance.”
With a very slim chance of qualifying for the District 3 Class 2A playoffs heading into the week, the Irish (4-5 overall, 4-2 D-III) could ill afford to suffer another setback. Kipple took over and instilled a sense of confidence in the huddle that typically comes from more experienced signal-callers.
“He’s got control,” Lawrence said. "He helped us stay calm and together. We needed (this game) and we needed him.”
Without McFadden, who scored 15 touchdowns this season for the Irish, the YC offense relied heavily on the ground attack of Manny Lucena. The senior followed up a strong game last week against Littlestown (143 yards) with another one Friday, as he tallied 134 yards and first-quarter touchdown that put the Irish ahead.
The York Catholic offense, however, lacked the quick-strike abilities that have been seen all season long with McFadden on the field. That gave the Green Knights a chance to stick around.
Much like last week, the Irish did themselves no favors with turnovers. Kipple was picked off once, but York Catholic also gave Fairfield new life after making a big defensive stop midway through the fourth quarter. Just a couple of plays after stopping the Knights at the York Catholic 5, the Irish turned it over at their own 10.
The Knights made the Irish pay, as Connor Joy made it around the left edge for a 2-yard run that evened the score with just over three minutes remaining.
York Catholic gave Kipple the opportunity to show what he can do and the sophomore did just that. Kipple led a nine-play drive with time quickly winding off the clock to position the Irish for a game-winning score.
The sophomore did more than that, as he found his buddy Lawrence — who caught four balls for 49 yards — for the game-winner.
“We needed this,” Lawrence said. “We probably should have won bigger, but a win is a win. We came out and we won.”