York Catholic headed to title game
STEELTON — York Catholic running back Jakkar Kinard was nearly overcome by tears of joy.
His team picked off a pass from Steel-High quarterback Malachi Young with 1:44 left in Friday's District 3 Class A semifinal. The interception sealed the come-from-behind 21-14 victory against the Rollers and punched York Catholic’s ticket to the championship game for the third consecutive season.
“It’s the best feeling, it’s the best feeling,” Kinard said, wearing a huge smile. “It feels better than last year. It’s the third year … I’m at a loss for words. I can’t really say much. It’s just crazy.”
The Fighting Irish certainly lived up to their name by battling back from a 14-0 halftime deficit to score once in the third quarter and twice in the final five minutes of the fourth to pull out the win.
The first and second half could not have been any more different for York Catholic (6-5).
The Fighting Irish failed to gain any momentum and did not convert on a late second-quarter drive that got them inside Steel-High's 5-yard line. The Rollers (5-6) held off the Fighting Irish’s run game, and a pass attempt on fourth down on the 3-yard line went incomplete.
Steel-High, on the other hand, scored twice nearly five minutes apart from each other. A 32-yard pass into the end zone was tipped by a York Catholic defender, but Javion Grant was able to grab the ball as it fell toward the ground for a 6-0 lead. Then with 5:19 left in the half, Jaron Grayer ran 33 yard for a touchdown, and the Rollers completed the two-point conversion to go ahead 14-0.
Kinard set the tone for York Catholic to start the second half. He called for the ball to start the third quarter and returned the kickoff 63 yards to the Rollers' 23-yard line. Kinard ran the ball another 21 yards on the drive to get the Fighting Irish their first points of the game.
“He’s telling his teammates he wants the football, and guys are saying we’re going to block,” York Catholic head coach Eric Depew said. “That definitely changed the momentum because when we got the score there we just got pumped.”
It wasn’t until late in the fourth quarter that the luck of the Irish really kicked in.
York Catholic drove down the field from their own 30-yard line to tie the game with five minutes remaining. Dan Yokemick found Joe Bauhof for a 22-yard touchdown pass. Then the ensuing kickoff saw the Rollers fumble the ball and allow the Irish to recover it on the 11-yard line.
Yokemick found Bauhof again for the game-winning touchdown at 3:27, and the interception moments later sealed it.
“This is what York Catholic is about,” Depew said about the comeback. “These kids are just no-quit attitude. We’ve been in a lot of these. We came back to beat Delone, we were down against Biglerville. That’s what I told them at halftime. We’ve been here before.
“It’s just a great accomplishment. Three years in a row now these seniors get to play at Hershey.”
This is the second straight year that the Fighting Irish knocked out Steel-High in the semifinals. The Irish won last year by a much wider 23-8 margin.
The Fighting Irish will face Camp Hill in the Class A title game on Friday at Hersheypark Stadium.
District 3 Class A championship
Who: (3) York Catholic vs. (1) Camp Hill
When: 1 p.m. Friday
Where: Hersheypark Stadium
SH — Javion Grant 32 pass from Malachi Young (Kick no good), 9:00
SH — Jaron Grayer 33 run (run Quentin Taylor Porter), 5:19
YC — Jakkar Kinard 1 run (Kick Brennan), 9 36
YC — Joe Bauhof 22 pass from Dan Yokemick (Brennan kick), 5:00
YC — Joe Bauhof 4 pass from Dan Yokemick (Brennan kick), 3:27
Rushing — YC, Jakkar Kinard 23-79, Dan Yokemick 14-60, Tom Lamont 1-4. SH, Jaron Grayer 19-123, Shamari Jones 3-7, Javion Grant 1-11, Quentin Taylor Porter 2-3, Malachi Young 8-33.
Passing — YC, Dan Yokemick 9-14-73. SH, Malachi Young 2-6-27-1.
Receiving — YC, Joe Bauhof 2-26, Luke Brennan 5-43, Brandon Creisher 2-4. SH, Javion Grant 1-32, Quentin Taylor Porter 1-5.