York, PA - Central York's veteran coach, Brad Livingston, pumped his fist as he walked into the crowd. He turned into a spectator after all the craziness on the field had finished. Turning back toward his players, he cracked a big smile as the Central York band blared out the alma mater and Panthers players jumped around in a huddle in front of the stands.
Central York's 33-28 victory against Chambersburg in the opening round of the District 3 Class AAAA playoffs featured a bit of everything. A fumble into the end zone that the defense recovered. A snap sailing over the punter's head for a safety. A field goal that hit the right upright, the left upright and finally the crossbar before it finally dropped beyond the crossbar for a successful kick.
The biggest play, however, might have been Central converting on a fake punt.
The Panthers advance to face No.-1 seeded Wilson in West Lawn next weekend. But don't be surprised if Central's players need a moment to catch their breath.
"It was pretty much everything I thought it would be," Livingston said with a smile after the game.
The Panthers caused four second-half turnovers, outscoring Chambersburg, 19-7, in the second half. Chambersburg failed to earn a first down during the first 19:33 of the second half. And by then, the Trojans needed a miracle finish to pull off a comeback win.
Central allowed a 70-yard scoring drive in the fourth quarter, but its offense sealed the victory by picking up three first downs with its final possession of the game.
The game changed so much in the second half, it was easy to forget that Chambersburg looked to be in command of this game. The game, after all, appeared to fall apart for Central in the final minutes of the first half. Chambersburg had one of those stretches where everything seemed to go its way. The Trojans needed just 3:08 to punch in the final two scores of the first half.
But Central York's coaching staff tried to remain calm.
The Panthers, trailing by a touchdown, had some luck of its own: Central York would receive the ball to open the first half.
"We were going to have a chance to go down and score -- and tie it up," Livingston said, describing Central's halftime talk. "(If we scored) there will be a quarter and a half left, and from there we'll just see who wins the ballgame.
"That's what we tried to do, and it worked out."
But Central's opening drive stalled. Facing a fourth-and-1 from the Chambersburg 45, Central sent out its punt team. Darian Hampton took the snap and ran 31 yards. The drive was extended, Hampton ended up scoring two play later, and Central scored the tying points.
"We had been in the same spot earlier on, and we had punted the football," Livingston said. "So we thought (sending the punt team out) wouldn't surprise them too much. And coach George Touras told us that (the potential to run it) was there. It was kind of the right place/right time. And lightning struck. He made a great call, and it worked. Hampton's one heck of an athlete to have the ball in his hands."
Hampton left no doubt on the fourth-down fake.
"I recognized that they haven't been penetrating to me on the previous couple punts," Hampton said. "I wanted to take advantage of this one. ... Anyone gets in my way, I'm feeling sorry for them, because I'm getting this first down for my team.
"It's nerve-wracking at the beginning, you are thinking 'What if ...?' But once you're out there it's all about doing it. I could only think about getting a first down."
Chambersburg fumbled the ensuing kickoff, and though Central failed to immediately cash in -- turning the ball over by fumbling into the end zone -- the Panthers dominated the field possession game in the second half. Central intercepted two passes. Central forced Chambersburg to punt from its own end zone -- which resulted in a bad snap and a safety. And until its final possession of the game, Chambersburg managed negative-1 yard of total offense in the second half.
Chambersburg 7 14 0 7 -- 28
Central York 7 7 9 10 -- 33
Cb -- Taylor Tolbert 47 pass from Ryan Martin (Kane Snider kick), 5:28
CY -- Sherief Sutton 24 run (Braden Neal kick), 3:53
CY -- Marquis Fells 4 run (Neal kick), 8:24
Cb -- Taylor Charles 38 run (kick failed), 3:20
Cb -- Kellen Williams 15 pass from Martin (Williams pass from Martin), :12
CY -- Darian Hampton 11 pass from Corey Hartz (Neal kick), 9:27
CY -- Safety, ball snapped out of end zone, 1:34
CY -- Andrews Dadeboe 21 FG, 9:58
CY -- Nate Trona 22 pass from Hartz (Neal kick), 6:15
Cb -- Williams 14 pass from Martin (Snider kick), 3:33
-- Cb -- CY
First downs -- 14 -- 18
Rushes-yards -- 26-85 -- 38-209
Passing -- 19-29-2 -- 9-24-0
Passing yards -- 159 -- 180
Total yards -- 244 -- 389
Punts -- 4-30.0 -- 3-28.7
Fumbles-lost -- 2-2 -- 3-2
Penalties-yards -- 5-33 -- 16-120.5
Rushing -- Chambersburg, Taylor Charles 8-61, Ryan Martin 5-14, Jordan Brown 11-11, Colten Brookens 2-(-1); Central York, Sherief Sutton 11-80, Marquis Fells 11-54, Darian Hampton 3-47, Breaun Randle 1-17, Zach Steffee 2-12, Corey Hartz 9-2, Blue Curry 1-(-3).
Passing -- Chambersburg, Ryan Martin 19-29-2-159; Central York, Corey Hartz 9-23-0-180, Darian Hampton 0-1-0-0.
Receiving -- Chambersburg, Kellen Williams 5-75, Jonathan Hopple 5-28, Jordan Brown 3-9, Taylor Tolbert 2-23, Taylor Charles 2-(-3), Gavin Hartz 1-14, Keione Cuff 1-12; Central York, Sherief Sutton 2-79, Nate Trona 2-51, Andrews Dadeboe 1-21, Darian Hampton 1-11, Zach Emswiler 1-9, Marquis Fells 1-5, Jay Stone 1-4.