It had to be an ominous sign for Eastern York first-year football coach Jeff Mesich when he helplessly watched York County School of Technology run back its second kick return of the game right before halftime.
"It's hard to win those games when you allow two kick-return touchdowns," Mesich said. "A kick-return touchdown means you had just scored. That means whatever just happened for you got erased."
York Tech used the two return scores along with two long touchdown passes and a rushing touchdown to emerge with a 30-24 victory against the Golden Knights at the York Tech Saturday afternoon.
"We've got a ways to go yet, no question," said York Tech coach Charlie Troxell, who is back for his second stint as the Spartans coach. "We have a lot of young kids, but we're coming together. Things are going well. We're happy with where we are at right now."
York Tech (1-1) scored the game-winning points with 7:20 remaining as junior quarterback Josiah Smallwood connected with 6-foot-4, 185-pound wide receiver Jordan Ray on a fly pattern down the right sideline for an 86-yard touchdown. Ray also caught a 60-yard touchdown pass from Smallwood in the first quarter.
"We need to do more of (the short passes)," Troxell said. "We want to set defenses up. We need to get the ball more to Jordan Ray. He's a stud. If we can throw him a slant, he can go the whole way. You've got to give (Smallwood) credit too. He made some nice throws."
The Spartans completed eight passes in the game for 233 yards, while rushing for just 51 yards. Smallwood had 31 of those yards in the final possession of the game as he ran seven straight keepers to kill the clock.
Eastern York (0-2) was hurt by the big play as well as a whopping 105 yards in penalties in just the opening half. The Golden Knights cleaned things up in the second half, only getting two flags for 15 yards.
The Golden Knights also fumbled four times, losing two, and threw an interception in the game while York Tech did not turn the ball over.
"(York Tech) was able to take advantage of mistakes we made," Mesich said. "You have to give credit to their kids for making a play when they had a chance."
The penalties and miscues overshadowed a running game that demolished the York Tech defense for 443 yards. Eastern York sophomore quarterback Seth Bernstein ran for a game-high 202 yards, including a 93-yard touchdown in the first quarter. Junior running back Logan Kline added 92 yards on the ground.
"Our defense bent, but it didn't break completely," Troxell said. "They hung in there. We gave up a couple of long runs, which was tough."
The win for Troxell put him halfway to his career mark during his first run at York Tech, when his teams went 2-28 over three seasons between 2002 and 2004.
"Last week (in a 38-14 loss at Harford Tech), we played well and fought hard, but we gave away about 22 points," Troxell said. "We didn't do that (Saturday). I think we are gaining confidence."
YORK TECH 30, EASTERN YORK 24
YT -- Jordan Ray 60 pass from Josiah Smallwood (kick failed), 6:02
EY -- Seth Bernstein 93 run (kick failed), 2:36
YT -- Tyrese Smallwood 80 kick return (kick blocked), 2:23
EY -- Jimmy Kurnik 8 pass from Bernstein (kick blocked), 11:52
YT -- Tyrese Smallwood 5 run (pass failed), 5:53
EY -- Cole Witman 43 run (kick failed), 1:32
YT -- Terence Romey 80 kick return (run failed), 1:18
EY -- Bernstein 7 run (kick failed), 11:53
YT -- Ray 86 pass from Josiah Smallwood (kick blocked), 7:20
Rushing — EY, Seth Bernstein 18-202, Logan Kline 15-92, Jimmy Kurnik 1-54, Cole Witman 4-48, Keegan Corwell 3-36, Kaleb Corwell 4-34, Dylan Zurin 2-2, Angel Maldonado 2-0, Zach Doyle 1-(-25). YT, Josiah Smallwood 16-44, Tyrese Smallwood 4-6, Kevin Parker 1-5, Rasdashan Dickson 3-(-2), Terence Romey 1-(-2).
Passing — EY, Bernstein 5-9-1, 27, 1 TD. YT, Josiah Smallwood 8-19-0, 233, 2 TDs, Romey 0-1-0, 0 yds.
Receiving — EY, Zurin 1-12, Kurnik 1-8, Kline 3-7. YT, Ray 3-145, Romey 3-63, James Villafana 2-25.