In Dallastown football lore, it will go down as the catch. It will also go down as the drive, as well as the defensive stand that set everything up.
Wildcats senior Malik Lewis hauled in an Andrew Henry pass on fourth down with 16 seconds left. The 6-yard touchdown capped a 12-play, 80-yard drive, giving No. 3 Dallastown a dramatic 21-20 District 3 Class AAAA win over Central Dauphin East on Friday night.
Henry set up the play with a huge scramble to the Panthers 13-yard line and got smacked out of bounds, adding six yards on the penalty. Rob Catchings was held to a yard on third down, and with the season on the line, Henry found his favorite target: Lewis.
"We have worked the past three offseasons, getting the connection down," Lewis said. "I think we had it right there and it showed how much we work together. The whole game we had in our mind, we are going to win this game."
"It was solid coverage, I knew I had to get rid of it, and I knew Malik would come up with it if I gave him the chance," Henry said. "He is an incredible player. You've just got to give him the ball and let him make plays."
After the teams shook hands, the Dallastown students charged the field in celebration. The Wildcats improved to 10-2 and head to the district semifinals for the first time in school history.
"I don't know if I could describe it right now," Dallastown coach Kevin Myers said. "I am just so proud of those kids. The work they put in was phenomenal. They will remember that forever. No one will take that from them. I am so happy for the kids, they deserve it."
Of course the drive wouldn't have mattered if not for an impressive defensive stand. A Wildcats fumble gave CD East the ball on Dallastown's 18. Chase Edmonds, who led all rushers with 166 yards, gained 8, but back-to-back penalties pushed the Panthers back.
On third down, Damoni Weaver sacked East quarterback Jahad Neibauer and the ensuring punt landed in the end zone for a touchback.
With 80 yards to go, and 4:46 left on the clock, Henry hit Lewis for 20. Three plays later, Rob Catchings busted a 19-yard run.
Catchings gained 5 on the next two plays and an incompletion forced fourth down. However, a defender grabbed a streaking Lewis, and the pass interference penalty gave the Wildcats a first down at the Panthers' 14.
Four plays later, Lewis and his teammates celebrated his second touchdown catch of the game. Henry said it never entered his mind that it could be his last high school snap.
"I am sure it would have afterwards if it would've went a different way," he said. "I just knew I had to get it done. It was the second play in a row we ran without huddling and it didn't give me time to think about it. I just did it."
"Andrew has been throwing the ball great and Malik has been doing his stuff all year," Myers said. "They just have the connection. Malik finds a way to get open, the kid catches the ball. That is the type of player you want in big situations like this."
Central Dauphin East (7-5) had one last chance after the kickoff, but Addison Quinones intercepted a flanker pass on a trick play and time expired.
The Wildcats took their first lead of the game in the opening minute of the fourth quarter when Henry hit Max Naill on a 6-yard touchdown pass. But the Panthers answered with a 68-yard drive, capped by Neibauer's 4-yard run.
After Dallastown went three-and-out on their opening possession, it took East all of two plays to get on the board, a 57-yard run by Edmonds.
But the Wildcats' defense woke up after that and early in the second quarter, Henry hit Lewis with an 11-yard scoring strike that combined with McKinely Curran's 35-yard field goal to send the teams to halftime with the Panthers leading 14-9.
See how YAIAA teams have fared in the District 3 playoffs
Central Dauphin East 7 7 0 6 -- 20
Dallastown 0 9 0 12 -- 21
CDE -- Chase Edmonds 57 run (Sean Orlando kick), 10:11.
Dt -- Malik Lewis 11 pass from Andrew Henry (kick blocked), 8:09.
CDE -- Paekwon Purdy 19 pass from Jahad Neibauer (Orlando kick), 3:30.
Dt -- McKinley Curran 35 FG, :25..
Dt -- Max Naill 6 pass from Henry (pass failed), 11:16.
CDE -- Neibauer 4 run (pass failed), 6:59.
Dt -- Lewis 6 pass from Henry (pass failed), :16.
First downs 13 9
Rushes-yards 44-219 25-97
Passing 10-15-1 11-19-0
Passing yards 105 122
Total yards 324 219
Punts 5-31.4 5-42.0
Fumbles-lost 1-1 3-1
Penalties-yards 13-112 6-35
Rushing -- CDE, Edmonds 29-166, Neibauer 12-42, Joseph Lemelle 1-4, Quniton Smith 1-4, Tabius Walker 1-3. Dt, Robert Catchings 14-99, Addison Quinones 1-1, Dezmond 1-0, Henry 9-(-3).
Passing -- CDE, Neibauer 10-14-1-105, Travis Crummy 0-1-1-0. Dt, Henry 11-14-0-122
Receiving -- CDE, Purdy 6-57, James Waters 4-48. Dt, Lewis 5-85, Naill 2-9, Catchings 2-7, Owen Ritter 1-19, Drew Romesberg 1-2.