The game turned in a matter of five minutes.
During a 5:04 stretch near the end of the second quarter, every Milton Hershey miscue seemed to result in a big play for Dover. Every one of Dover's big plays seemed to lead to another touchdown. And the Dover Eagles finally secured the school's first victory in the District 3 football tournament, defeating Milton Hershey, 34-6, in the program's seventh trip to the postseason.
No. 5-seeded Dover (9-2) advances to face No. 4-seeded Conrad Weiser (8-3) at 7 p.m. in next week's Class AAA quarterfinal at Conrad Weiser. Conrad Weiser reached the quarters by defeating Spring Grove, 24-0, Friday.
Dover scored 21 points during a 5:04 stretch near the end of the second quarter. Dover went from leading by one point to running off the field at halftime up 28-6.
No play figured quite as pivotal as when Dover linebacker Cameron Beckman intercepted a pass at the Spartans' 4 and returned it for a touchdown. The play allowed Dover to increase its lead from one to eight points.
"It happened so fast," Beckman said. "I just saw Dan Bisking and Brian Lehman in the end zone, they had the (Milton Hershey) quarterback. The quarterback just tossed it up, and I don't even know how I reacted (on the play). ... I was in coverage but once I saw him get tied up I ran toward him, and he just threw it up (for grabs)."
It marked Beckman's first interception of the season.
"We didn't want them to have any hope that they could win the game," Beckman said. "We showed a lot of blitzes this week, which we didn't do in the regular season."
Milton Hershey desperately needed the first half to end. Dover's big plays, and Milton Hershey miscues, kept coming, though.
Dover's defense forced a three-and-out series, and this time Jake McLean took over. The Dover back picked up 12 yards on a second-and-18 play, and officials tacked on another 15 yards for a hit out of bounds. McLean took the next play 56 yards for a touchdown.
Dover's defense forced another three-and out series for Milton Hershey, forcing a punt. And when the snap to the punter sailed high, Dover defenders forced a Milton Hershey fumble near the 15. Beckman was there again, recovering it to help set up another Eagles touchdown. Although the defense hadn't blitzed this much in the regular season, Dover's coaching staff felt it needed to add something new in the postseason. The key this week might have been Dover head coach Eric Lam's willingness to add a new wrinkle with the blitzes -- and trust his players to learn their assignments -- in Week 11.
"It's a double-edged sword, but if we have to put our kids in the best situation to win, this is what we needed to do," Lam said about the decision to blitz Milton Hershey. "They know we believe in them, and they were able to execute."
McLean led the Dover offense, rushing for a game-high 116 yards despite carrying the ball just 10 times. Four of his carries went for 10 or more yards. His big night also helped mask the fact Dorran Ledbetter suffered an injury this week in practice, according to Lam, and couldn't play. Ledbetter's status is still not known for this week's upcoming playoff game.
"We thought (Dorran) would be able to be in, but he wasn't, so ... Coach (Brian) Hunter told me I had to step up a little more and maybe get a few more carries," McLean said.
Isaiah Green leads the Eagles in rushing, going over 1,000 yards this season. But Ledbetter has carried the ball 74 times for 705 yards, averaging an eye-popping 9.53 yards per carry. Even without Ledbetter, Dover's running game looked just fine. Quarterback Logan Ambrose rushed for 72 yards and Green added 39 yards rushing with a pair of touchdowns. All but 12 of Dover's 277 total yards of offense came on the ground.
"I just feel like our backs run hard and our line blocks very well," McLean said. "It's confusing for the defense."
Neither team looked sharp in the second half, but Dover was the only team to score, with Green scoring his second touchdown on a 1-yard plunge with 5:31 to play.
"It felt great going into halftime up 28-6, but we knew we couldn't let down," McLean said. "We went just as hard in the second half and finished them off."
Notes: Dover's football program had reached the postseason in 1985, 1987, 1995-96 and 2010-11. The Eagles lost all six of its previous postseason games, including a 17-14 overtime loss to Elizabethtown in 1987. ... McLean's 116 yards rushing pushed his season rushing total to 651 yards. ... Ambrose pushed his season rushing total to 597 yards. ... Dover has four players -- Green, Ledbetter, McLean and Ambrose -- that have approached or surpassed 600 yards rushing this season.
firstname.lastname@example.org @JimSeip on Twitter
Milton Hershey 0 6 0 0 -- 6
Dover 7 21 0 6 -- 34
Do -- Isaiah Green 4 run (Brendan Warren kick), 4:55.
MH -- Tre Brown 34 pass from Kevin Wiggins (kick blocked), 10:33.
Do -- Cameron Beckman interception return 4 pass (Warren kick), 5:53.
Do -- Jake McLean 56 run (Warren kick), 3:02.
Do -- Logan Ambrose 1 run (Warren kick), :49.9.
Do -- Green 1 run (kick blocked), 5:31.
First downs 5 15
Rushes-yards 24-46 51-265
Passing 11-25 1-2
Passing yards 132 12
Total yards 157 277
Punts 4-25 4-29.8
Fumbles-lost 3-2 3-2
Penalties-yards 8-52 7-58
Rushing -- Milton Hershey, Qwasif Shabazz 7-22, Thomas Kassmieh 2-20, Sharrdan Long 4-7, Kevin Wiggins 9-4, Brown 1-(-4), Jomari Licorish 1-(-3). Dover, McLean 10-116, Logan Ambrose 12-72, Green 16-39, John Sterner 7-32, Gabe Jackson 4-15, Tyler Blazosky 2-(-9).
Passing -- Milton Hershey, Wiggins 9-19-1-76, Kassmieh 2-6-0-56. Dover, Ambrose 1-2-0-12.
Receiving -- Milton Hershey, Daniel Tartaglia 2-56, Brown 2-48, Justin Highter 6-23, Long 1-5. Dover, Derrick Wagaman 1-12.