York Suburban needed a spark at halftime in its game vs. York Catholic on Friday night. And coach Brian Freed knew just the play to give it to them.
With the playoffs out of reach, and senior memories to be made, there was no point in holding onto the play for another year.
On the first play of the second half, sophomore Jimmy Daglaris took a handoff and tossed a 66-yard touchdown pass to senior Jaime Nixon-Alark to propel the Trojans to a 20-point third quarter and eventual 41-35 victory vs. the visiting Irish.
"It is going to be a big memory for us and the team," Nixon-Alark said of the win. "I am so happy that it happened and happened in dramatic fashion."
York Catholic, which needed help to make the playoffs, is now officially out.
And Nixon-Alark is a big reason for it.
In his final game, Nixon-Alark left a lasting impression, one the York Suburban fanbase is used to seeing, as he sped past defenders on special teams.
After the Trojans fell behind 13-0 in the first quarter, Nixon-Alark got the Trojans on the scoreboard with a 79-yard kickoff return.
He started the fourth with a 61-yard punt return, too, part of a 27 point swing in about 14 minutes of game time.
And he did it all with a thigh injury that happened before the game even started, colliding with teammate Isaiah Randall in a freak accident during warmups. Randall, the team's leading rusher, was unable
Nixon-Alark was a bit more fortunate that his injury was to his leg. "I just sucked it up, this was my last night playing. I was just like whatever," Nixon-Alark said.
Despite the second-half scoring outburst, the Trojans were barely able to hold off York Catholic and the YAIAA's leading passer, James Dougherty.
Dougherty started the game 6-for-6 and had thrown for 194 yards and three touchdowns on 18-of-31 passing before halftime.
But great special teams, most notably the punting of AJ Hammond, began to pin York Catholic deep in its own territory. A few defensive adjustments by Suburban and a strong wind blowing in Dougherty's face in the third quarter slowed the York Catholic offense, too.
When Dougherty got the wind at his back in the fourth quarter, after a 27-point scoring binge by Suburban, he was able to let loose again. He threw touchdown passes of 30 and 47 yards in the fourth quarter, but wasn't able to get one more.
Jovani Vasquez intercepted him with about a minute and half remaining.
York Catholic 13 8 0 14 -- 35
York Suburban 7 7 20 7 -- 41
YC -- Scott Bartkowiak 10 pass from James Dougherty (pass fail), 7:06.
YC -- Qua'Shawn Grooms 18 pass from Dougherty (Dougherty kick), :27.
YS -- Jaime Nixon-Alark 79 kickoff return (Kyle Bulgarelli kick), :12..
YS -- Marquesse Dillon 49 run (Bulgarelli kick), 9:30..
YC -- Aaron O'Brien 2 pass from Dougherty (Dougherty to O'Brien), 3:32.
YS -- Jaime Nixon-Alark 66 pass from Jimmy Daglaris (Bulgarelli kick), 11:46..
YS -- Marquesse Dillon 1 run (Bulgarelli kick), 2:36..
YS -- Chandler Draughn 42 pass from Dillon (kick failed), :8..
YS -- Jaime Nixon-Alark 61 punt return (Bulgarelli kick), 10:14..
YC -- Aaron O'Brien 30 pass from Dougherty (Dougherty kick), 4:34.
YC -- Scott Bartkowiak 47 pass from James Dougherty (Dougherty kick), 7:06.
-- YC -- YS
First downs -- 18 -- 8
Rushes-yards -- 20-21 -- 39-158
Passing -- 24-48-2 -- 4-9
Passing yards -- 292 -- 115
Total yards -- 313 -- 273
Punts -- 5-170 -- 6-149
Fumbles-lost -- 1-1 -- 3-1
Penalties-yards -- 2-30 -- 9-75
Rushing -- York Catholic, Morgan Hart 5-1, Joseph Rost 2-7, Qua'Shawn Grooms 2-2, James Dougherty 5-4, Hakeem Kinard 1-3, Joshua Elsen 5-4; York Suburban, Marquesse Dillon 15-82, Jaime Nixon-Alark 6-35, Liam McWilliams 2-3, Chase Kehr 9-21, Aaron Ivey 4-23, Chandler Draughn 1-8, Emmanuel McDowell 1-4, A.J. Hammond 1-(-18).
Passing -- York Catholic, James Dougherty 24-48-292-5-2 ; York Suburban, Marquesse Dillon 3-8-48-1-0, Jimmy Daglaris 1-1-67-1-0.
Receiving -- York Catholic, Qua'Shawn Grooms 7-54, Aaron O'Brien 8-104, Scott Bartkowiak 3-84, Josepg Rost 5-45, Joshua Elsen 1-5; York Suburban, Nixon-Alark 3-73, Draughn 1-42 .