On a night when the Delone Catholic High Squires found themselves in a dogfight for their playoff lives, they turned to their senior quarterback to lead them to daylight.

Brett Smith threw for 106 yards and ran for another 102 on Friday night against Columbia, but the final 26 rushing yards made the difference on chilly J.T. O'Flaherty Field in the District 3 Class A semifinals at McSherrystown.

Smith's 26-yard touchdown run on fourth-and-1 with little over three minutes left in the contest put the upset bid of the Columbia Crimson Tide on ice, allowing the Squires to come away with a 28-16 victory and a date with Steelton-Highspire in the district championship game at 1 p.m. Friday at Hersheypark Stadium.

"We'll take a win," Delone head coach Steve Wiles said. "A lot of people looked at (Columbia's) 4-6 record and said that they can't be too good. They play a tough schedule. ... When I looked at the film, I knew this wasn't going to be an easy game. My first year (2007), we played Columbia in the first round in an overtime game and won by one point, and then went on to win the district title. I hope that happens again."

Incidentally, the 2007 district title is also Delone's most recent despite an appearance in the 2009 District 3 Class AA championship game.

"We're going on to Hershey to play in the district title game," Smith said. "I can't even describe (the feeling). It's amazing."


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Smith and Matt Giuffreda each ran for two touchdowns for the Squires, but Giuffreda was at the center of a key turnover that turned the early tide.

After the bruising senior fullback bashed his way to a 19-yard touchdown run on Delone's first drive, Giuffreda was stripped at the Delone 32 on the second possession.

Jose Retamar recovered for the Crimson Tide and, after converting both a fourth down and a third-and-6, Columbia took the lead on a touchdown and two-point conversion run from running back Andrew Combs.

Combs carried 22 times for 102 yards on the night, but the Delone defense stiffened and rendered the Crimson Tide's offense dormant throughout the second and third quarters.

Giuffreda put Delone Catholic ahead early in the second quarter when he backed into the end zone from two yards out. Delone went for two, and receiver Bobby Witt made a sliding grab in the corner of the end zone to make it 15-8.

Smith added the first of two interceptions, a basket grab at the Delone 20, to give the Squires the ball back, but Delone then turned the ball over on downs.

Zach Smith broke a 60-yard touchdown run the next time Delone had the ball, but much to the dismay of the supportive home crowd, a 15-yard chop block penalty brought the ball all the way back to the Delone 29.

Delone Catholic’s Lance Reneker runs the ball while linebacker Eric Boyle moves to cover defense during Friday’s game at Delone.
Delone Catholic's Lance Reneker runs the ball while linebacker Eric Boyle moves to cover defense during Friday's game at Delone. (THE EVENING SUN -- SHANE DUNLAP)

Giuffreda then had a 29-yard run called back, but Delone strung together runs of 25, 18 and 12 to reach the Columbia 25. The Tide, however, stopped the Squires on downs again.

At halftime, the Squires had outgained Columbia 249-74 and had the edge in first downs, 13-5, but the score remained 15-8.

"I told our young linemen at half that we have to go out and get a stop, and then get a score," Columbia head coach Michale Burke III said.

The teams traded stops to start the third, then Delone went ahead 22-8 on a 3-yard waggle by Brett Smith which was set up by a 35-yard run by Lance Reneker.

Columbia stormed right back down the field, driving 79 yards in 17 plays, cutting into the lead on a 2-yard fourth down touchdown run by Bryan Flory.

Will Keiser made a sliding catch for the two-point conversion to make it 22-16 with 8:21 to go in regulation.

Delone took the ball at its own 36 and ground its way to the Columbia 26 in nine plays, but faced fourth-and-1.

"(Brett Smith) wanted to run that play in the huddle," Wiles said. "He said, 'They haven't stopped it all night'. They had him in the backfield. Someone broke through and had their arms around him and he just made a heck of a play."

"We watched a lot of film and had the right plays called," Burke said, "but it's not about the X's and O's. It's about the Jims and the Joes. (Delone) has athletes at every position. I'm proud of our kids. They never stopped fighting."

 

Columbia  8  0  0  8 -- 16
Delone Catholic  7  8  7  6 -- 28

First Quarter
   Del -- Matt Giuffreda 19 run (Jay Strickland kick), 6:24.
   Col -- Andrew Combs 5 run (Combs run), 1:53.
Second Quarter
   Del -- Giuffreda 2 run (Bobby Witt pass from Brett Smith), 10:56.
Third Quarter
   Del -- B. Smith 3 run (Strickland kick), 4:31.
Fourth Quarter
   Col -- Bryan Flory 2 run (Will Kreiser pass from Kyle Warfel), 8:26.
   Del -- B. Smith 26 run (pass failed), 3:22.
 
-- Col -- Del
First downs -- 13 -- 21
Rushes-yards -- 37-142 -- 45-324
Passing -- 7-19-2 -- 8-12-0
Passing yards -- 80 -- 106
Total yards -- 222 -- 430
Punts -- 4-23.5 -- 0-0.0
Fumbles-lost -- 0-0 -- 3-1
Penalties-yards -- 2-15 -- 5-45

 
INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS
   Rushing -- Columbia, Andrew Combs 22-102, Bryan Flory 10-22, Nick Nobile 2-19, Kyle Warfel 2-1, Jose Retamar 1-(-2); Delone Catholic, Lance Reneker 17-136, Brett Smith 12-102, Matt Giuffreda 13-78, Zach Smith 3-8.
   Passing -- Columbia, Warfel 7-19-2-80, Combs 0-0-0-0; Delone Catholic, B. Smith 8-12-0-106.
   Receiving -- Columbia, Combs 4-30, Nobile 2-43, Will Kreiser 1-7; Delone Catholic, Austin Noel 5-77, Bobby Witt, 2-14, Reneker 1-15.