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District 3, Class AAA playoffsNovember 13Hershey 24, Kennard-Dale 21

For the second straight year, the unthinkable almost happened. The Kennard-Dale football program, so long one of the have-nots of the YAIAA, was yards away from a District Class AAA playoff victory.

A heavy underdog against fifth-seeded Hershey, the Rams relied on their trademark brand of power football. Kennard-Dale, the 12th seed, dominated possession for long stretches, including touchdown drives of 24 and 15 plays.

That helped the Rams keep pace with the front-running Trojans. Hershey scored 17 unanswered points to take a 17-7 first half lead, before Kennard-Dale quarterback Matt Romoser plunged into the end zone with two seconds left in the first half to make it 17-14.

Romoser rushed for 115 yards on 31 carries and also added a touchdown pass, while bulldozing fullback Ethan Hornbarger plowed for 131 yards on 29 attempts.

Despite trailing most of the game, Kennard-Dale got the ball with one more chance. Down three with 6:34 to play, the Rams embarked on one final drive. Kennard-Dale took 16 plays to drive from its own 13-yard line to the Trojans 19 with 34 seconds to play.

The Rams set up for a 36-yard field goal attempt to try to tie the game, but Zac Moser's attempt fell just short. For the second straight year, the Rams (6-5) were denied. In the first round of districts the previous fall, Kennard-Dale had fallen to Greencastle-Antrim by just three points.

"It's just a heartbreaker," Rams head coach Doug Wilkinson said. "Our kids played their guts out. I'm extremely proud of my kids."

The game turned out to be Wilkinson's final one with the Rams. He resigned in the offseason to focus on his professional career. In eight seasons, Wilkinson helped transform Kennard-Dale from a perennial doormat into one of the most punishing, unpleasant-to-play teams in the area.

Heartbreaking though this final game was, it was also further proof of that transformation.

Honorable mention

York Catholic 23, Reading Holy Name 22: This district playoff game also came down to a field goal attempt in the final minute. Only this time, luck was in favor of a YAIAA team.

In a Class A first-round game with six lead changes, York Catholic saw itself surge ahead one more time in the fourth quarter, when quarterback Adam Sentz charged in from five yards out.

But Reading Holy Name was far from done. It drove down the field in the final minutes, and thanks to a pass interference call found itself with a first down on the Irish 20-yard line with no time on the clock. The Blue Jays attempted a field goal, but Peter Gass' kick sailed wide left, allowing York Catholic to escape.

The Irish (7-5) lost to top-seed Upper Dauphin the next week, but returns plenty of talent and could be a district title contender this season.

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