Spring Grove makes playoff push with wild win over South Western
Head coach Kyle Sprenkle and the rest of the Spring Grove coaching staff preached "pride, purpose, passion and finish" all week leading up to the Rockets' meeting with rival South Western, and the players followed through with a 28-21 victory on an unseasonably warm Friday night at Papermaker's Stadium.
The win, along with Greencastle's loss to Shippensburg, likely puts the Rockets into the District 3 Class AAA tournament that starts next week.
"This is the best win for us all season. We finally put it all together tonight," Sprenkle said. "I'm most happy for our seniors. We get another game next week and we'll see how far we can take it."
South Western (7-3, 5-2 YAIAA Division I) would've shared the division championship with Dallastown had the Mustangs won. The Wildcats lost to rival Red Lion, 26-0, but hold the division crown alone with a 6-1 league mark.
"We didn't play well tonight and that's on me," South Western head coach Damian Poalucci said. "(Spring Grove) played a heck of a game. It was a very emotional game. They were up for it and we weren't up enough and that's my fault. I didn't have our guys ready to go."
Spring Grove (5-5, 4-3) led 21-14 when Ryan Daugherty intercepted a pass in the Rockets' end zone. He took it 105 yards for a score, but an inadvertent whistle turned the play into a touchback with 5:53 remaining in the game.
"I feel bad for Ryan, that's the second time he's had a pick-six taken away by a whistle," Sprenkle said. "We didn't hear a whistle over on our sideline and we preach playing to the whistle, but I guess the whistle blew and our guys didn't hear it."
Following a Rockets punt, the Mustangs marched 61 yards in five plays and tied the game with 1:51 to go when Brock Geiman scored on a 10-yard quarterback keeper.
It didn't stay even for long, though.
Spring Grove signal caller Jake Messersmith unleashed a bomb down the left sideline and wideout Brady Stein sprinted past the South Western secondary to haul it in for a 54-yard touchdown strike with 1:34 remaining.
Adam Warehime then intercepted Geiman with 58 seconds to go, but the Mustangs forced a turnover on downs at the Spring Grove 34-yard line with time appearing to expire.
However, it didn't and when the Spring Grove student section stormed the field to celebrate, the Rockets were flagged for a 15-yard penalty to give South Western one play from the Spring Grove 19-yard line with one tick left.
Under heavy pressure, Geiman rolled right, then back to his left before heaving the ball up. It fell harmlessly to the turf and the celebration was on again for Spring Grove.
"We had a gameplan tonight and we executed it," Sprenkle said. "Our offense has definitely struggled at times this year, but we played well on that side of the ball tonight."
Messersmith completed 19-of-24 passes for 259 yards and a pair of scores.
After a scoreless opening frame, Geiman scored on a 16-yard run with 6:36 left in the half before Spring Grove received scoring runs of 12-yards and 1-yard from Nick Erickson to take a 14-7 lead into halftime.
The lead ballooned to 21-7 midway through the third quarter when Messersmith hit Warehime in the back-right corner of the end zone. The gap was sliced to 21-14 with 1:54 left in the frame, however, when Geiman hooked up with Jeff Green on a 14-yard touchdown pass.
South Western held an edge in total offense (350-280) and first downs (22-14).
SW — Brock Geiman 16 run (Wes Sneeringer kick) 6:36
SG — Nick Erickson 12 run (Andrew Luckenbaugh kick) 3:09
SG — Erickson 1 run (Luckenbaugh kick) 0:42
SG — Adam Warehime 16 pass from Jake Messersmith (Luckenbaugh kick) 6:22
SW — Jeff Green 14 pass from Geiman (Sneeringer kick) 1:54
SW — Geiman 10 run (Sneeringer kick) 1:51
SG — Brady Stein 54 pass from Messersmith (Luckenbaugh kick) 1:34
Rushing — SW, Mike Johnson 16-121, Green 6-35, Zack Hughes 5-27, Robby Harbison 5-15, Tyler Fulmore 2-14, Geiman 6-13, Miles Francis 1-6. SG, Erickson 21-37, L.J. Chisholm 3-8, Ryan Daugherty 3-(-3), Anthony Beddia 1-(-7), Messersmith 1-(-14).
Passing — SW, Geiman 10-15-119-2. SG, Messersmith 19-24-259-0, Erickson 0-1-0-0.
Receiving — SW, Noah Staub 6-71, Green 2-25, Francis 1-16, Corbin Byers 1-7. SG, Beddia 6-76, Stein 5-102, Warehime 3-51, Chisholm 2-16, Erickson 2-10, Connor Reed 1-4.