Some times the journey from exhilaration to despair only takes a few seconds.
The Gettysburg Warriors were victimized by one big play after another in a 62-22 drubbing by Kennard-Dale at their home stadium on Friday night, yet there was a time early in the contest when they were very much in it.
After receiving the opening kickoff, Gettysburg (4-3, 3-1 YAIAA-2) marched 66 yards to the KD five before the drive stalled. On fourth and goal from the five, Brady Heiser completed a pass to Landon McGee that was stuffed for no gain on a perfect form tackle by Steven Lukes.
The Rams marched the length of the field to draw first blood, buoyed by a 34-yard burst around right end by Lukes on third and long and then by a 34-yard completion from senior quarterback Jason Copenhaver to Broc Gilland. Copenhaver sneaked in from the two to complete the 95-yard foray on the first play of the second stanza. The kick was blocked but the Rams (6-1, 3-0 Y-2) were in front for good.
Heiser rallied the Warriors near midfield before calamity struck. The freshman signal caller scrambled left, then right before uncorking a desperation heave into coverage. KD’s Garrett McCleary made the interception and sprinted 55-yards to pay dirt behind a convoy of blockers. Lukes ran in the two-point conversion for a 14-0 advantage.
“I bobbled it,” said McCleary. “I knew if I caught it I was gone, so I was a little nervous. My team blocked for me and we ended up (getting the score).”
The Rams forced a punt, again drove the field and cashed in a third score with just 12 seconds left in the half when Copenhaver scrambled right from 14 yards out.
“They were killing us up the middle on that run play in the first series,” said Kennard-Dale head coach Chris Grube. “Our guys battled and stopped them, then went the length of the field. That’s what we do — we keep the ball on the ground. We only threw it a couple times tonight (3) — that’s our identity. We were able to wear them down up front and that’s a testament to the great leaders in our senior class. We have a lot of guys who can do special things; we try to spread it around because so many players can make a huge impact for us.”
The Warriors had a good start to the second half when they compelled a three-and-out and immediately cashed in the good field position on a 45-yard strike from Heiser to Andrew Gastley, who was wide open on a deep post pattern. The kick was blocked but the home team was within 21-6 with hope of a comeback.
Those aspirations were quickly dashed when McCleary answered on a 69-yard explosion down the right sideline. On its next series, a high snap from punt formation gave the Rams the ball at the Warriors’ four. Micah Partee wasted no time and took it to the house on the first play from scrimmage.
McGee scored from 61 yards away and Heiser found Jayden Johnson for a two-point pass to trim the deficit to 35-14 with 5:30 left in the frame. McGee would add a 25-yard TD run, but the Rams countered with a 50-yard scamper by Avery Cummings and third scores by Copenhaver (from the 18-yard line on a QB sneak on third-and-one) and McCleary (32-yard dash through traffic) to account for the final tally.
“They were executing and we weren’t tackling that well,” said Warriors’ head coach Matt Heiser. “We were getting beat around up front. We needed stops and couldn’t get them — that hurt us.”
McGee finished with 13 carries for 145 yards and two touchdowns.
“He ran hard,” said Heiser. “I’m proud of what he was able to do.”
Kennard-Dale controls its destiny in the division over the final three weeks.
“We have West York for Homecoming this week, I’m excited,” said Grube. “Then we have Susquehannock, Eastern York and Week 11; we will see where we go.”
The Warriors travel to York Suburban on Friday night.
“We’ve got to stay focused, we have to talk and clean things up,” said Coach Heiser. “We have to keep our dog in the fight and keep pushing forward.”
Kennard-Dale 0 21 21 20 — 62
Gettysburg 0 0 14 8 — 22
KD-Jacob Copenhaver 2 run (kick blocked) 10:31
KD-Garrett McCleary 55 interception return (Steven Lukes run) 7:32
KD-Copenhaver 14 run (Dylan Jones kick) :12
G-Andrew Gastley 45 pass from Brady Heiser (kick blocked) 9:14
KD-McCleary 69 run (Jones kick) 7:56
KD-Micah Partee 4 run (Jones kick) 6:52
G-Landon McGee 61 run (Jayden Johnson pass from Heiser) 5:30
KD-Copenhaver 18 run (Jones kick) 2:26
KD-Avery Cummings 50 run (kick failed) 10:18
G-McGee 25 run (Heiser run) 7:01
KD McCleary 32 run (Jones kick) 4:17
KD-Joseph Smith 25 interception return (Jones kick) 3:20
First downs 16 13
Rushes-yds. 44-377 41-287
Passing 1-3-0 4-11-2
Passing yds. 34 60
Total yds. 411 347
Fumbles-lost 1-0 0-0
Penalties-yds 5-48 7-75
Punts-avg. 1-30 3-36.3
Rushing: KD-Garrett McCleary 2-101, Steven Lukes 8-71, Micah Partee 12-62, Avery Cummings 4-61, Adam Loucks 3-33, Jason Copenhaver 11-30, Gavin Sparks 3-19, Broc Gilland 1-0; G-Landon McGee 13-145, Jayden Johnson 6-42, Tanner Newman 6-28, Brady Heiser 7-17, Cody Furman 2-10, Jayden Cramer 3-6, Jeremiah Scott 1-4, Andrew Gastley 1-3, Wyatt Heistand 1-2, Chris Boone 1-(-20).
Passing: KD-Copenhaver 1-3-34-0; G-Heiser 4-11-60-2.
Receiving: KD-Gilland 1-34; G-Gastley 3-60, McGee 1-0.