SHIPPENSBURG -- There was nothing subtle about the Spring Grove football team's approach Friday night.

Not on offense, where workhorse halfback Jeff Delaughter carried the ball 27 times.

Not on defense, where the Rockets piled up six sacks and forced three turnovers.

And certainly not after the game, when the Rockets joined their big traveling party and the band in a raucous celebration of the school's second-ever District 3 playoff victory.

Spring Grove, the No. 10 seed, opened its District 3 Class AAA playoff run on the road with a physically-dominant 24-0 win vs. No. 7 seed and Mid-Penn Colonial Division champion Shippensburg (9-2).

The win sets up a rematch in the quarterfinals for the Rockets (8-3), who will travel to West York on Friday.

Spring Grove’s Evan Himes (10) looks to take down Shippensburg’s Tony Johnson during Friday’s game.
Spring Grove's Evan Himes (10) looks to take down Shippensburg's Tony Johnson during Friday's game. (Public Opinion -- Ryan Blackwell)

"The kids played their butts off," Spring Grove coach Russ Stoner said. "We drove an hour and 20 minutes to get here ... and it was probably the most complete game we played all year. It couldn't have come at a better time."

Spring Grove asserted its physical superiority early on, despite being hamstrung by some self-inflicted wounds. The Rockets committed six penalties in the first quarter, a large reason for punts on their first two drives.

Spring Grove shook off the early mistakes and embarked on an 11-play, 75-yard drive that closed the first quarter. Delaughter (27 carries, 127 yards), who carried seven times on the drive, finished it with a 13-yard touchdown run.

"Our attitude is to just ground and pound every time," Delaughter said. "Once we scored our first touchdown we just kept going."

Spring Grove was sharp again on the next drive, a nine-play, 87-yard march that included three receptions by Austin Nee. The final of those was a nine-yard touchdown pass from Matt Runge that made it 14-0 with 7:05 to go in the half.

The Rockets punched it in one more time on their opening drive of the second half, with Runge connecting with Logan Hagerman for a 24-yard scoring strike with 5:42 remaining in the third.

The cushion allowed an aggressive Spring Grove defense to pin its ears back, and five different Rockets recorded sacks, including two by defensive end De'Andre Gaskins. The second was a crushing hit that brought a close to the night and put Ship in the red for rushing yards.

"We showed them something different tonight," Stoner said. "We decided to put a different scheme together against them. It was the defense I used for 16 years at Central. It was high-pressure."

The scheme also limited the Greyhounds' 1,000-yard rusher, William Burt, to 19 yards on 10 carries. Ship had 11 carries go for negative yardage.

 

Spring Grove  7    7    7    3 -- 24
Shippensburg  0    0    0    0 --   0

First Quarter
   SG -- Jeff Delaughter 13 run (Andrew Luckenbaugh kick), :50
Second Quarter
   SG -- Austin Nee 9 pass from Matt Runge (Luckenbaugh kick), 7:05
Third Quarter
   SG -- Logan Hagerman 24 pass from Runge (Luckenbaugh kick), 5:42
Fourth Quarter
   SG -- Luckenbaugh 42 FG, 7:50
 
-- SG -- Sb
First downs -- 17 -- 12
Rushes-yards -- 47-205 -- 30-(-5)
Passing -- 7-17-1 -- 12-24-2
Passing yards -- 159 -- 165
Total yards -- 364 -- 160
Punts -- 4-31.

Spring Grove’s Austin Klunk, left, looks to make a stop on Shippensburg’s Tyrell Kater during Friday’s District 3 playoff game.
Spring Grove's Austin Klunk, left, looks to make a stop on Shippensburg's Tyrell Kater during Friday's District 3 playoff game. (Public Opinion -- Ryan Blackwell)
5 -- 5-29.0
Fumbles-lost -- 0-0 -- 1-1
Penalties-yards -- 13-100 -- 4-45

 
INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS
   Rushing -- Spring Grove, Jeff Delaughter 27-129, Matt Runge 13-50, Logan Hagerman 5-19, Austin Nee 2-7; Shippensburg, William Burt 10-19, Tony Johnson 6-17, Tyrell Kater 3-(-1), Seth Frey 11-(-40).
   Passing -- Spring Grove, Matt Runge 7-17-1-159; Shippensburg, Seth Frey 12-24-2-165.
   Receiving -- Spring Grove, Austin Nee 5-94, Logan Hagerman 2-65; Shippensburg, Britton Hastings 5-77, Storm Fridinger 3-55, Tyrell Kater 2-27, Aaron Glass 1-8, Tony Johnson 1-(-2).