Away from the field and out in the darkness of a West York parking lot, high school students waiting in a school bus erupted in cheers.
And then cheers could be heard from another bus.
The Panthers were going home, and the Central York band began cheering as soon as they caught a glimpse of the first football players walking back to the team bus.
It doesn't always work out this way. But on a night when it seemed West York was destined to ride its gutsy new quarterback, Tyler Folk, to victory, Central York went on an 80-yard drive to score a last-minute touchdown and defeat the Bulldogs, 31-28, Friday night.
"Our team really pulled that out for us," Central York quarterback Nik Strine said. "It's the biggest game of the season for us, we wait all offseason for it. Whether you win it like that or in a blowout, it's awesome."
Strine and the Panthers had passed for more than 100 yards (six completions, 133 yards) by halftime. The end of the game, however, is where Central made the biggest plays. Starting with the ball at his own 20-yard line with 2:27 to play in the game, Strine needed just six plays to score the go-ahead touchdown.
"We think that's a lot of time," Central York coach Brad Livingston said.
Facing a fourth down from his own 24, Strine found Sakai Barton for a 58-yard pass reception to move to the West York 18.
Biggest play of the game in many ways, yet nobody wanted to take credit for it.
"That's one of our favorite plays," said Strine, who threw for three touchdowns and ran for another. "(Barton) ran a great route. I just threw it up, and he ran under it and got it."
But Barton had a different take: "Perfect throw. Go deep and get the ball, but it was perfectly thrown."
After moving to the 16, Strine found Barton again — this time for the deciding touchdown with 43 seconds to play.
"First we called slant and then coach was just like, 'Run 6 yards, break it down and head to the end zone. Hopefully he throws it up.' He threw it up, and I got it," Barton said.
The game was a back-and-forth affair, with Folk leading a gutsy charge. West York rallied from a 14-0 deficit in the first half to tie the game. Then he rallied the Bulldogs from a 10-point second-half deficit to take the lead on a fourth-down Ryan Narber 2-yard touchdown plunge with 2:27 to play.
"We kind of crapped out in the heat a little bit," Livingston said. "But the boys bounced back and played well after halftime.
"It was kind of interesting because I wanted to see how kids would react when we got behind. And they reacted pretty well, I'm proud of them."
Folk finished with 183 yards passing and 53 yards rushing despite being sacked four times. He took his last hit on the penultimate play of the game and needed to leave the field for the final play with a calf injury.
"He's just a really tough kid," Livingston said about the West York quarterback. "That's the heart and soul and the pulse of what they're going to do offensively. I know they have weapons, and they play hard and their line blocks well, but — as they say in New York — he's the guy that stirs the drink a little bit."
West York's Anton Johnson threw a deep ball on the last play, but Central York came up with another big play when Kollin Vaught intercepted the desperate pass.
"It's the rivalry ... the West York/Central York thing," Strine said about the reason a Week 1 win is a big deal. "To come out with a win? It's awesome, I love it."
Central York77107—31West York014014—28
CY — Nik Strine 15 run (Carter Luckenbaugh kick), 5:24
CY — Shyheim Goff 30 pass from Strine (Luckenbaugh kick), 11:46
WY — Terry Cains 8 pass from Tyler Folk (Evan Keim kick), 8:11
WY — Folk 7 run (Keim kick), :07
CY — Luckenbaugh 23 kick, 7:32
CY — Shawn Johnston 7 pass from Strine (Luckenbaugh kick), :54
WY — Folk 1 run (Keim kick), 9:11
WY — Ryan Narber 2 run (Keim kick), 2:27
CY — Sakai Barton 16 pass from Strine (Luckenbaugh kick), :43
CYWYFirst downs1116Rushes-yards23-6939-205Passing11-22-012-24-2Passing yards225183Total yards294388Punts3-202-48Fumbles-lost0-05-1Penalties-yards3-3511-63
Rushing — CY, Goff 12-49, Strine 4-14, Elzir Stroman 6-5, Justin Paneto 1-1. WY, Cadence Thomas 17-118, Folk 17-53, Narber 4-34, Ramell Baldwin 1-0.
Passing — CY, Strine 11-22-0. WY, Folk 12-23-1, Johnson 0-1-1.
Receiving — CY, Barton 3-112, Corbin Chevaux 2-44, Goff 1-30, Brandon Falkenstein 3-19, Johnston 1-16, Stroman 1-4. WY, Dante Dorm 2-83, Mike Messersmith 2-33, Thomas Bentzel 1-29, Ramell Baldwin 2-13, Cains 2-16, Thomas 1-5, Narber 1-4, Anthony Kahley 1-0.