Littlestown quarterback Dustin Crouse spent the summer studying film of his upcoming opponents.
The hours of extra work helped him gain 221 yards in Friday night's 33-14 win against Delone Catholic in McSherrystown. He admits there might have been "an extra day or two" dedicated to the Squires.
"He's become a student of the game," Thunderbolts coach Mike Lippy said. "He'll come to the sideline and say, 'Coach, I think we can do this and we can do that.'
"In all honesty, we've had some trouble with Dustin. The other week he had two personal fouls. We told him, 'You're a key to a lot of things we're going to do.' The last two weeks, he has grown up a lot. I thought tonight he was a (heck) of a leader."
His right leg accounted for 212 yards on five punts, an average of 42.4. He pinned the Squires twice within their 10-yard line.
"That was kind of a fluke thing," said Crouse, laughing. "I'm not the world's best punter, but I just got the job because I'm the quarterback."
The Squires (1-2, 1-1 YAIAA Division III) started poorly, fumbling at Littlestown's 5-yard line on their opening drive. The Thunderbolts (3-0, 2-0 YAIAA III) recovered and soon had a 7-0 lead on a 9-yard touchdown pass between he and wide receiver Nick Hornbrook.
Littlestown's defense -- with Crouse playing linebacker -- then limited the Squires because of its film study.
Squires quarterback Brett Smith did throw a 42-yard touchdown to Nick Braun, his first completion, to bring his team to 10-7 with 7:22 left in the second quarter. Smith went 4-of-15 with 54 passing yards.
"It was just watching a lot of film, knowing what they do, knowing what they do out of certain formations," Crouse said. "That's just a big credit to our defense. They were tough all game. We did it right, and we got the job done."
The Thunderbolts extended their lead to 20-7 with six seconds left in the second quarter, but Squires senior Lance Reneker returned a kick 86 yards for a touchdown as time expired for a 20-14 margin heading into halftime.
The Squires didn't draw closer after Littlestown intercepted Smith twice in the second half.
"Maybe when you get down, you try to make a couple plays you normally don't make," Squires coach Steve Wiles said. "The one he threw (to the left sideline), he said he was trying to throw it out of bounds, but I don't know. It didn't look like it slipped. It had a nice spiral."
The Thunderbolts added rushing touchdowns from A.J. Miles and Dustin DeGroft in the second half to extend their lead to 33-14. They finished with 229 rushing yards against 118 passing yards, an oddity for previous Thunderbolt teams but a norm for this season.
"We felt like we could run the ball tonight," Lippy said. "We just tried to keep utilizing
A job that helped the Thunderbolts beat one of their biggest rivals.
"It means just about everything," Crouse said. "Our two biggest games we look at are Delone and Bermudian. We got one of them knocked off."
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Littlestown 7 13 7 6 -- 33
Delone 0 14 0 0 -- 14
Lt -- Nick Hornbrook 9 from Dustin Crouse (Dalton Strickler kick), 3:20
Lt -- Strickler 33 FG, 9:42
DC -- Nick Braun 42 from Brett Smith (Jay Strickland kick), 7:22
Lt -- Dustin DeGroft 1 run (Strickler kick), 1:16
Lt -- Strickler 31 FG, 0:06
DC -- Lance Reneker 86 kickoff return (Strickland kick), 0:00
Lt -- A.J. Miles 2 run (Strickler kick), 4:09
Lt -- DeGroft 9 run (kick failed), 9:39
-- Lt -- DC
First downs -- 18 -- 10
Rushes-yards -- 50-229 -- 32-146
Passing -- 10-19-0 -- 4-15-2
Passing yards -- 118 -- 54
Total yards -- 347 -- 200
Punts -- 5-42.4 -- 5-26.2
Fumbles-lost -- 1-0 -- 3-1
Penalties-yards -- 4-20 -- 2-5
Rushing -- Littlestown, Dustin Crouse 20-103, Dustin DeGroft 19-64, Seth Hildebrand 1-36, Ryan Griffin 5-16, A.J. Miles 5-10; Delone Catholic, Matt Giuffreda 10-56, Nick Braun 3-30, Lance Reneker 7-24, Hayden Bell 5-20, Nate Miller 4-18, Zach Smith 2-3, Jake Kadis 1-(-5).
Passing -- Littlestown, Dustin Crouse 10-19-0-118; Delone Catholic, Zach Smith 4-15-2-54.
Receiving -- Littlestown, Nick Hornbrook 4-49, Garrett Trout 2-36, Dustin DeGroft 2-14, Ryan Griffin 1-14, Todd Cook 1-5; Delone Catholic, Nick Braun 1-42, Lance Reneker 1-6, Austin Noel 1-4, Bobby Witt 1-2.