Garden Spot surprises Spring Grove
Entering Friday's game against Garden Spot, Spring Grove had allowed a combined nine points in its first two games. Its defense ranked fourth in the YAIAA for fewest yards allowed.
Meanwhile, the Spartans' leading rusher, Jahad Jeffers, was in street clothes on the sidelines, missing the game with an injury.
So on paper, things looked good for the Rockets.
But after Spring Grove's first drive of the game stalled after 11 plays and a turnover on downs, the Spartans quickly responded. Garden Spot quarterback Cameron Roth raced up the right sideline on the visitors' first play on offense, scoring from 78 yards out to give the visitors the early lead.
Roth was just getting started for the Spartans, who upended the Rockets, 35-13, to hand Spring Grove its first loss of the season. Garden Spot also played without leading tackler Brock Kauffman.
"We thought they were going to be full power and it was kind of a shock to see them, especially their leading running back in a boot," said Rockets head coach Kyle Sprenkle. "They have a really nice team without (Jeffers) and I think they are even more powerful with him."
Garden Spot (2-1) adjusted by relying more on the players that the Spartans had available.
"It was 'next guy up.' It's cliché, but it's the truth in this game," Spartans head coach Zach Fulmer said. "I was proud of our guys, because we asked a lot of some guys."
The Rockets (2-1) tied the score just one time. That came in the first quarter when Eric Glass scored from 9 yards out with 2:42 left in the opening period. Two plays earlier, Glass kept the drive alive on a third-and-12 by catching a 50-yard pass from quarterback Nick Shaqfeh.
The final Rockets score wouldn't come until the fourth quarter, when Shaqfeh connected with Brady Stein on an 81-yard touchdown pass. In between, it was a frustrating night on offense for Spring Grove, which threw three interceptions and fumbled twice, but recovered both times.
"We have been slow to start the last couple of weeks," Sprenkle said. "We played a much better team this week and we were able to recover from that slow start in weeks prior, but when you're playing a quality team like Garden Spot, it was difficult for us to get back on track."
The Spartans led 21-7 at halftime. After the teams exchanged interceptions to open the third quarter, Garden Spot went on a 15-play drive that took nearly six minutes off the clock.
Garden Spot capped the drive when Roth hit Austin Wanner from 2 yards out for the score with 3:36 to play in the third quarter and push the visitors lead to 28-7.
Roth accounted for a total of 122 rushing yards and 119 yards passing. He threw for two scores and rushed for two more.
Shaqfeh threw for 185 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions.
Garden Spot's Clayton Dimon picked off two passes in the game.
Both teams start divisional play next week, with Dallastown coming to Spring Grove and Garden Spot hosting Solanco.
GS -- Cameron Roth 78 run (Kyle Willwerth kick), 5:59
SG -- Eric Glass 9 run (Drew Gordon kick), 2:42
GS -- Joe Craver 18 pass from Roth (Willwerth kick), 10:37
GS -- Roth 1 run (Willwerth kick), 2:42
GS -- Austin Wanner 2 pass from Roth (Willwerth kick), 3:36
SG -- Brady Stein 81 pass from Nick Shaqfeh (kick failed), 8:23
GS -- Mac Focht 32 run (Willwerth kick), 3:41
Rushing — GS, Cameron Roth 19-122, Mac Focht 8-80, Austin Wanner 8-38. SG, Ryan Daugherty 4-4, Nick Shaqfeh 11-9, Anthony Beddia 4-18, Braden Brandt 7-14, Eric Glass 7-10, Trent Baker 4-4.
Passing — GS, Roth 9-19. SG, Shaqfeh 5-12.
Receiving — GS, Focht 3-37, Joe Craver 2-39, Gary Clark 2-31, Wanner 1-2, Zackary Ringler 1-10. SG, Connor Reed 1-29, Glass 2-48, Beddia 1-27, Brady Stein 1-81.