FOOTBALL

Bentivegna's record night leads York Suburban past Donegal in district playoffs

The senior ran for 382 yards and six touchdowns as the Trojans won their first playoff game since 1986.

Thomas Kendziora
York Dispatch

Mikey Bentivegna took the handoff, raced down the left sideline and left 36 years behind in a cloud of dust.

The York Suburban senior running back shuffled past the first line of Donegal defenders and simply outraced the rest. He glided all the way to the end zone for a 78-yard touchdown with 2:51 left in the opening quarter, and he was just getting started.

Bentivegna rushed for 382 yards and six touchdowns as the No. 7-seed Trojans beat the No. 10-seed Indians, 41-6, in the opening round of the PIAA District 3 Class 4A playoffs at home Friday night. York Suburban (7-4) left the field with its first postseason victory since 1986, and Bentivegna added the single-game school rushing record to his standout season.

York Suburban against York Catholic during their football game in Spring Garden on Friday, Sept.9, 2022.

It took only 13 carries for Bentivegna to break off scoring runs of 78, 80, 51, 11, 61 and 63 yards. He toted the ball 11 times for 317 yards and five TDs in the first half, then added his sixth score 54 seconds into the third quarter. That gave Suburban a 41-0 lead, prompted a running clock and closed the door on an incredible night’s work.

“He’s our best player, he's our most dynamic player, and for him, it's all the hard work that he's put in over four years paying off for him, and I'm happy for him,” Trojans head coach Josh Fry said. “I'm glad to see that he's having success this season because he's earned it — he's worked for it.”

York Suburban had already beaten Donegal (4-7) earlier this season, riding Bentivegna’s 257 yards and three TDs to a 41-18 road victory on Sept. 2. But for a brief moment, the Indians appeared to be up to the task Friday. They moved the ball on the opening drive before punting, then took advantage of two Trojan penalties to force a three-and-out. After Donegal was stopped on fourth down at the 22, however, Bentivegna broke loose for a 78-yard touchdown on the very next snap.

York Suburban's runningback, Mikey Bentivegna (2) at Media Day for the local high school football teams in York on August 2, 2022.

Indians running back Tyler Sload answered with a 52-yard run down to the Suburban 13, but the Indians’ drive stalled and the Trojans blocked a 30-yard field goal attempt. One play later, Bentivegna took a handoff 80 yards down the right sideline to the house, giving the hosts a 14-0 lead with 39 seconds left in the first quarter.

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Donegal’s offense had almost no juice after its first two drives, and it was all Suburban from there. Bentivegna’s third breakaway touchdown, a 51-yarder, came at the 9:18 mark of the second quarter and made it 20-0. Two drives later, his 28-yard run and a third-down pass from Rylan Bratton to Dakota Shue set up Bentivegna’s 11-yard score with 1:28 left in the half.

Donegal was content to let the clock run out and head to intermission, but Suburban forced a three-and-out and called a pair of timeouts to get the ball back with 27 seconds left. One handoff to Bentivegna was all it took, as he scampered 61 yards to the black-and-orange end zone with 15 seconds on the clock. The Trojans added a two-point conversion and led 34-0 at halftime.

“It’s a cool feeling,” Bentivegna said of being able to outrun a whole defense. “Just putting all the work in in the offseason — running the hills, trying to get faster — and seeing it all pan out is a great feeling.”

Bentivegna had just two carries in the second half, the first going for two yards and the second turning into a 63-yard touchdown. The rest of the game featured a running clock and several backups. Donegal finally found the end zone with 3:37 left on a pass from Sawyer Floyd to Deandre White, but it was all cosmetic.

And just like that, a 36-year playoff drought was a thing of the past.

Fry, who took over the program before last season, spoke to his players in the postgame huddle about having 48 more minutes on the clock next week at Manheim Central. The No. 2-seed Barons (9-1) will certainly present a challenge, but the Trojans are ready for it.

“That's been our message since the playoffs started,” Fry said. “We're just fighting for another 48 minutes to stay together and not say goodbye, to let the seniors have as long a time as we can together to celebrate the season.”

When Bentivegna was a freshman, York Suburban went 10-0 in the regular season only to lose its postseason opener. The Trojans went 4-2 in 2020 but missed the playoffs. Last year’s team battled injuries and went 3-6. Everything clicked this fall, though, as Bentivegna ran behind a robust offensive line for a school-record 1,873 yards and scored 31 total touchdowns.

Friday’s masterclass brought the senior’s season totals to 2,255 rushing yards, 3,161 all-purpose yards and 37 touchdowns. And with six touchdowns in a playoff win, he knows he’s left a lasting legacy on York Suburban and the entire York-Adams League.

“I’ve put so much time into this,” Bentivegna said. “I’ve given up so many mornings, so many nights, just working really hard. And it really means a lot — it really does.”