Spring Grove High football coach Russ Stoner was adamant after his team's 41-34 home win Friday against Central York.
"The (YAIAA) Division I title runs through Spring Grove," he said. "You can put it in the paper. I truly believe we're going to be a great football program. People are going to read this and think it's cocky, arrogant. But no, it's what I believe."
To beat the Panthers for the first time since 2001, the Rockets (4-2, 1-0 YAIAA I) needed a late defensive stop and an outstanding night from quarterback Matt Runge.
First, the defense.
Central York (3-3, 0-1) gained possession at midfield with 1:09 left and needing a touchdown to tie the game. Spring Grove's defense hadn't been strong -- it allowed 386 yards -- but it produced several good plays, including a defensive lineman breaking up a pass.
"I almost passed out," Stoner said. "If they have two seconds, that's too much time for them. They're a dangerous, dangerous team. I was rooting for our kids to make a play."
Also vital to the win was Runge, who finished 7-of-15 with 191 passing yards and 26 carries for 98 yards. He kneeled at the end of the game, which dropped him below 100 rushing yards and the Rockets to 499.
Runge is in his first year starting at quarterback after he played there his freshman and sophomore years as a backup. He bounced between several positions his junior season before playing quarterback the final two games
Stoner said a 6-of-16 performance with 243 yards in the Rockets' final game persuaded him to start Runge this year. Well, that and one other thing.
"There really wasn't a major reason why I went with Matt except the fact he's 6-feet-3 and 215 pounds," Stoner said, "and we knew he could run the ball as well. The last game-and-a-half, we saw Matt could bring some things to the table. He's not the best passer in the world, but he's a tremendous leader."
Runge is happy to be back at quarterback after the time away. He knows enough about the position to credit his offensive line afterward.
"The line was blocking," he said. "I had five seconds at least back there setting up. I love having the ball in my hands and making plays."
Runge's excellent performance came at the expense of a young Panthers secondary. Central York coach Brad Livingston was blunt in describing his defense.
"We got a lot of work to do," he said. "Just about everything (went wrong defensively). We'll probably watch (game film) and then it's going to get thrown in the trash.
"The bottom line is, what can you do? It's history. There's a game next week. When I wake up tomorrow morning, that's what I'm worried about."
What he'll see can't be pleasing. The Panthers allowed 27.3 yards per completion and 5.6 yards per rush attempt.
Spring Grove jumped to a 10-0 lead in the first quarter, but the Panthers scored consecutive touchdowns to take a 13-10 lead with 4:23 left in the first half before Rockets freshman Andrew Luckenbaugh kicked a 29-yard field goal -- his second of the game -- to tie the game at 13 going into halftime.
Both teams scored two touchdowns apiece in the third quarter to force a 27-27 tie going into the fourth quarter.
The Rockets then scored consecutive touchdowns, the first a 5-yard rushing score by Jeff Delaughter and the second a 6-yard run by Logan Hagerman, to build a 41-27 lead that would withstand a late rally by Central York.
The victory came against Stoner's previous team, for which he served as an assistant coach.
"I got a little bit emotional after the game because it meant a lot to me and because these kids have bought into what we're selling," he said. "That was really impressive to watch our kids out there tonight. I don't know the last time we had 500 yards of offense. I'll take 500 yards against one of the best defenses over the last 10 years."
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Central York 0 13 14 7 -- 34
Spring Grove 10 3 14 14 -- 41
SG -- Andrew Luckenbaugh 31 field goal, 9:57.
SG -- Jeff Delaughter 3 run (Luckenbaugh kick), 2:01.
CY -- Darian Hampton 12 pass from Corey Hartz (Kyle Smith kick), 7:39.
CY -- Marquis Fells 46 run (kick failed), 4:23.
SG -- Luckenbaugh 29 field goal, :04.9.
SG -- Austin Nee 30 pass from Matt Runge (Luckenbaugh kick), 5:30.
CY -- Hampton 36 pass from Hartz (Smith kick), 3:11.
SG -- Logan Hagerman 37 pass from Runge (Luckenbaugh kick), 1:35.
CY -- Fells 56 pass from Hartz (Smith kick), 1:19.
SG -- Delaughter 5 run (Luckenbaugh kick), 9:23.
SG -- Hagerman 6 pass from Runge (Luckenbaugh kick), 4:44.
CY -- Sherief Sutton 38 pass from Hartz (Smith kick), 3:20.
-- CY -- SG
First downs -- 11 -- 17
Rushes-yards -- 17-128 -- 55-308
Passing -- 14-21-3 -- 7-15-0
Passing yards -- 258 -- 191
Total yards -- 386 -- 499
Punts -- 2-44.5 -- 2-40.0
Fumbles-lost -- 3-0 -- 2-0
Penalties-yards -- 6-40 -- 3-30
Rushing -- Central York, Fells 9-63, Sutton 4-62, Hartz 4-3; Spring Grove, Delaughter 25-132, Runge 26-98, Hagerman 4-78.
Passing -- Central York, Hartz 14-21-3-258; Spring Grove, Runge 7-15-0-191.
Receiving -- Central York, Fells 5-97, Hampton 4-67, Sutton 2-45, Blue Curry 2-32, Andrews Dadeboe 1-17; Spring Grove, Nee 4-111; Hagerman 4-80.