York, PA - Remember that story about the tortoise and the hare? Here's a little secret Aesop never mentioned -- sometimes the hares gang up on the tortoises build such a big lead even the most valiant and steadfast of the turtles can't quite catch up.
That's how it went down Friday night in Dover, where Susquehanna Township's fleet of jackrabbits took advantage of three Dover fumbles to jump out to a big lead, then held off a furious rally for a 45-40 win in a first round District 3 Class AAA playoff game.
Colby Grant, Susquehanna Township's speedy junior all-purpose back, ran back a pair of kickoffs for touchdowns and scored another on a 63-yard run. His teammate, Jordan Banks, caught a pair of long touchdown passes to help the Indians to a 45-26 lead early in the fourth quarter.
At that point, many in the packed Dover side of the stands began to shuffle for the exits.
They missed a lot of excitement.
A muffed punt by Susquehanna Township set up a Tanner Link touchdown, his third of the game. And when the Eagles recovered an onside kick and went 47 yards in seven plays, suddenly Dover was within a touchdown with 5:35 remaining.
But, that was as close as the Eagles got.
After stopping Susquehanna Township on a fourth-and-4 near midfield, Dover got the ball back with 3:32 to go and decent field position. But three plays went backwards and a fourth-and-35 desperation pass fell incomplete, allowing Susquehanna Township to escape.
"These kids had tremendous heart," Dover coach Bill Miller said. "They had every reason to pack it in and they didn't. They fought and fought."
Dover could easily have packed it in after any of the big scores by Susquehanna Township, the type of plays that usually take the starch out of an opponent.
"We weren't able to limit the big plays," Miller said.
Five of the Indians' six touchdowns came on plays that covered more than 35 yards. The only one that didn't -- an 11-yard run in the second quarter by Brandon Wallace -- came after the Indians recovered a fumble inside the Dover 20.
That was one of three times the Indians scored on the very next play after recovering Dover fumbles. Twice Dover cut into the lead, only to see Grant, who runs the 40 in 4.3 seconds and was part of Township's state championship 4x100 relay team in the spring, run back the ensuing kickoff for a touchdown.
"He's without a doubt one of the fastest guys we have played against," said Dover running back Tanner Link. "If you have one false step against him, he's taking it to the house."
Dover had no trouble moving the ball, but the Eagles struggled to hold onto it. Dover piled up 431 yards off offense and held Susquehanna Township to 266. The Eagles racked up 19 first downs to nine for the Indians.
"As long as we could keep the ball without turning it over, they didn't do much to stop us," said Dover quarterback Connor Snyder, who completed 10 of 23 passes for 211 yards and a touchdown and also ran for another score.
Link rushed for 149 yards and three touchdowns, finishing his career with 3,008 rushing yards, breaking the old school record set in 2008 by Vaughn Hebron.
"The record is nice, Link said, "but it doesn't mean anything like this win would have meant."
Susquehanna Twp. 17 14 7 7 -- 45
Dover 7 7 6 20 -- 40
STwp -- Nick Trovalli 25 FG, 3:06.
STwp -- Jordan Banks 37 pass from Jordan Baskerville (kick failed), 7:05.
Do -- Tanner Link 12 run (Jonathon Taylor kick), 2:09.
STwp -- Banks 35 pass from Baskerville (Brandon Wallace run), 0:00.
STwp -- Wallace 11 run (Trovalli kick), 10:33.
Do -- Link 4 run (Daulton Heim kick), 6:27.
STwp -- Colby Grant 86 kickoff return (Trovalli kick), 6:14.
Do -- Connor Snyder 2 run (kick failed), 5:20.
STwp -- Grant 63 run (Trovalli kick), 3:26.
Do -- Caden Krout 54 pass from Snyder (run failed), 11:52.
STwp -- Grant 82 kickoff return (Trovalli kick), 11:36.
Do -- Link 5 run (Devin Heffley kick), 7:32.
Do -- Snyder 1 run (Heffley kick), 5:35.
-- Susquehanna -- Dover
First downs -- 9 -- 19
Rushes-yards -- 24-135 -- 53-220
Passing -- 6-12-0 -- 10-23-1
Passing yards -- 131 -- 211
Total yards -- 266 -- 431
Punts -- 3-33 -- 3-35.3
Fumbles-lost -- 5-2 -- 4-3
Penalties-yards -- 6-34 -- 6-37
Rushing -- Susquehanna Twp., Grant 13-82, Baskerville 1-31, Wallace 9-22, Jordan Millberry 1-0; Dover, Link 30-149, Jared Shipley 11-38, Snyder 11-33, Curtis Harman 1-0.
Passing -- Susquehanna Twp., Baskerville 6-12-0-131; Dover, Snyder 10-23-1-211.
Receiving -- Susquehanna Twp., Banks 2-72, Manny Gamble 2-0, LeRoy McClain 1-38, Vaughn Jones 1-21; Dover, Krout 3-95, Shipley 3-41, Link 2-41, Dylan Border 1-22, Curtis Harman 1-12.