Northern York tops York Suburban in districts
Northern York offensive coordinator Bill Miller told the Polar Bears' coaching staff through a headset his prediction that "nobody" would be on the far side of the field covering receiver Joey Razzano late in the fourth quarter.
But then other Northern coaches started talking, head man Greg Bowman recalled after the game with a laugh. Actually, York Suburban had two defensive backs in the area.
It didn't matter.
Northern York quarterback Curtis Robison threw a perfect pass to the near pylon, and only 6-foot-2 Razzano could reach up to snare it. York Suburban's two defenders collapsed to the turf at Robert F. Bostic Field in Dillsburg. Razzano responded by lifting his hand in the air — a finger raised skyward. The pass helped propel Northern to its first District 3 playoff victory since 2007, defeating York Suburban and its impressive passing game, 30-16, by breaking a second-half tie and scoring 14 unanswered fourth-quarter points.
Northern York scored 14 fourth-quarter points to defeat York Suburban, 30-16, in the first round of the District 3 Class AAA football playoffs Nov. 13, 2015. Jim Seip
Even though Northern completed just six passes, two of them resulted in scoring passes of at least 32 yards.
The win pushes Northern York (8-3) to the District 3 Class AAA quarterfinals, where they will play state powerhouse and top-seeded Bishop McDevitt (10-1) on Friday.
"What was the difference in the football game was the passing game," York Suburban coach Andy Loucks said of Northern's two passing touchdowns. "We can't make mistakes like that and let people beat you. We knew they were going to run the football, that's what they do. That's what they hang their hat on."
The loss ends the season for Suburban (8-3), which will lose record-setting quarterback Thomas Merkle and receiver Collin Mailman to graduation. Those two helped keep the Trojans in the game against Northern during a wild first half. The teams combined for 367 yards of total offense in the first half and three turnovers.
Northern appeared to be on the doorstep of taking over the game after driving inside the York Suburban 15-yard line on each of its first three possessions. But Robison fumbled the ball on first-and-goal from the Trojans' 1. Merkle responded with a short pass to Mailman that resulted in a 94-yard touchdown catch.
The half ended with Northern scoring nine points in the final 50 seconds. Jared Sutch pulled in a 35-yard touchdown pass with 3.3 seconds left.
Despite a crazy end to the first half, York Suburban picked up a fumble on the first offensive play of the second half, and Merkle needed just four plays to turn it into a touchdown pass to Dustin Knaub to tie the score.
That's the way it remained until Northern punched home two fourth-quarter scores, including a 1-yard plunge by Bobby Shelly with 9:10 to play that put the Polar Bears up for good. The 85-yard drive was keyed by a 38-yard run by Robison, who hurdled a falling defender and tip-toed down the sideline.
"I'm reading the right-side D end," Robison said about his decision to keep the ball. "... The backside lineman did a great job sticking to their blocks."
Northern's Bobby Shelly went on to crack 1,000 yards on the season as he rushed for a game-high 135 yards.
"I was just so happy ... my lineman just got it done and we got there," Shelly said.
Shelly rushed 15 times for 83 yards in the second half.
"We focused on the fact that if we didn't win this game there were about 20 seniors who would no longer be able to play high school football, and I think in the running game is where that manifested itself the most," Bowman said about the halftime talk to his team.
The win snapped Northern's two-game losing streak, and the players responded by dousing Bowman with ice water after his first playoff win. It's the same way they celebrated his first coaching win against Susquehannock earlier in the season. Bowman turned away, with water dripping down his coat, and announced, "twice in one year." He smiled the whole time.
YS - Jonas Atkinson 21 field goal, 6:48.
Nor - Michael Kearney 1 run (Aidan Alves), 3:36.
YS - Collin Mailman 94 pass from Thomas Merkle (kick failed), 7:51.
Nor - Alves 25 kick, :49.2
Nor - Jared Sutch 35 pass from Curtis Robison (run failed), :03.3.
YS - Dustin Knaub 15 pass from Merkle (Atkinson kick), 10:37.
Nor - Bobby Shelly 1 run (Alves kick), 9:10.
Nor - Joey Razzano 32 pass from Robison (Alves kick), 3:03.
. _YS_ Nor
Rushing — YS, Dajour Henderson 18-85, Travis Edwards 2-11, Jaden Haynes 3-8, Merkle 2-(-7), Teague Hoffman 1-0, Team 1-(-6). Nor, Bobby Shelly 26-135, Robison 14-104, M. Kearney 8-29, Jake Cromer 3-7, John Kearney 1-5, Team 1-(-3).
Passing — YS, Merkle 20-27-0 267. Nor, Robison 6-8-0 81.
Receiving — YS, Mailman 12-164, Hoffman 2-57, Dustin Knaub 5-41, Colin Deardorf 1-5. Nor, Sutch 1-35, Razzano 1-32, Shelly 2-8, J. Kearney 1-6, M. Kearney 1-0.