The battle between YAIAA-3 rivals York Catholic and Delone Catholic is always intense.

In recent years, it’s meant even more, as the Squires and Irish have been the class of the Y-3, with Delone grabbing division titles in each of the last two seasons with late-season victories over York Catholic.

This year, the Irish were able to flip the script, going on the road and battling to a 13-6 victory to grab a stranglehold on the division title, needing only a win next week against York Tech to claim it outright.

“I knew we were due here,” York Catholic coach Eric Depew said of the win. “We worked so hard to get where we were at. I had that feeling that we were going to come down here and take care of business.”

The Squires (5-4 overall, 5-1 in Y-3) started the game aggressively, winning the coin toss and electing to receive the opening kick. While the hosts’ run game got going early, gaining a pair of first downs out to midfield, the drive eventually stalled and the Irish (8-0, 6-0) took over in plus-territory after a blocked punt.

“This year, I’ve taken the ball every opportunity,” Delone coach Corey Zortman said of the decision to receive. “We’ve scored on our first drive in all but one game. So I just stayed the course and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.”

Delone’s defense stiffened, however, and the Irish were forced to punt after a quick three-and-out. A strong punt return from Coltyn Keller gave the Squires the ball back at their own 39.

Zortman’s squad quickly marched into York Catholic territory before a pair of penalties put Delone in a second-and-28 situation at its own 48. No matter, however, as Dylan Staub took a counter play 46 yards all the way to the Irish 6-yard line. Landen Eckert then bulldozed down to the 2 on the next play, but that’s where the momentum stopped.

A loss on second down put the Squires back to the 7, and on third down, quarterback Ryder Noel was intercepted while trying to evade a sack.

“That’s a huge play if you look at the outcome right now,” Depew said of the interception. “If they come up with points there, they could be the ones jumping up and down right now.”

The Irish then got their ground game going thanks to the legs of quarterback Levan McFadden and running back Andrew Adams. The duo helped move the ball all the way to Delone 35, but the drive was halted when McFadden was hauled down short of sticks on a fourth-down scramble.

After a quick three-and-out by Delone, York Catholic again put a solid drive together, but stalled out inside the Squires’ red zone. The Irish were left wanting for points as well, as Nick Andrasi’s 32-yard field goal attempt was blocked and the two teams went to the half scoreless.

Neither team completed a pass in the opening half, but York Catholic seemed intent on changing that after the break. After the Irish took the second-half kick, McFadden found Nick Creisher on a screen pass down to the Delone 20. Just moments later, the Irish signal caller plunged in from 1 yard out on a touchdown run to make it 7-0 with 8:16 left in the third.

While the ensuing drive didn’t produce points for the Squires, they were able to flip the field as Keller booted a 44-yard punt to pin York Catholic at its own 9-yard line. The Delone defense then forced a three-and-out and set up the Squires’ offense in a great spot, starting at the Irish 38.

The hosts quickly marched inside the York Catholic 10-yard line and the third quarter ended with the Squires facing fourth-and-1 at the Irish 5.

On the first play of the fourth quarter, Noel pitched right to Keller, who mishandled the ball initially before reeling it in and waltzing into the end zone to cut the score to 7-6. On the ensuing extra point, Justin Emeigh initially made the try but the play was blown dead for offsides on the Irish. Emeigh’s second attempt was wide of the uprights, keeping York Catholic in the lead.

“I thought it would’ve been good, but I’ll have to go look at that again,” Zortman said of the first attempt being blown dead. “Even so, we’ve got a great senior kicker and their all-star kicker struggled a bit as well, so it’s tough.”

On the following drive for the Irish, it was McFadden and wideout Quinn Brennan that took charge. First, it was McFadden to Brennan for a 42-yard hookup down to Squires’ 10. Then, on third-and-goal from the Delone 12, McFadden again found Brennan on a slant to push the lead out to 13-6 after Andrasi’s extra point attempt went wide.

The Squires took over at their 25-yard line with 7:30 to play needing a touchdown. That drive didn’t go as planned, as Delone was unable to pick up a first down and punted the ball back to the Irish with just over five minutes left in the contest.

From then on, the York Catholic offense salted the game away. First it was McFadden to Brennan for a huge third-down pickup out to the Irish 44 and after they’d been back inside their own 15 due to consecutive holding calls. Then, facing third-and-6 with the clock running down, Daniel Sterling took an end around 21 yards for a crucial first down into Delone territory. One McFadden first-down run later and the Irish were in the victory formation.

“I think it was a lot of hype,” Depew said of his team’s first-half struggles. “We tried to sort of calm it down a bit. We said ‘look guys, we understand what’s at stake. But it’s still a football game.’”

The Irish will look to finish off a perfect regular season and maintain the top spot in the District 3-2A power rankings next Friday when they welcome York Tech. The Squires, meanwhile, are holding onto the second spot in the D3-1A power rankings, which includes a date with Steel-High in the district title game.

They’ll look to solidify that spot next Friday when they travel to yet another rival, Hanover (3-5).

York Catholic 0 0 7 6 — 13

Delone Catholic 0 0 0 6 — 6

3rd quarter

YC-Levan McFadden, 1 run (Nick Andrasi kick), 8:16.

4th quarter

DC-Coltyn Keller, 1 run (kick failed), 11:57.

YC-Quinn Brennan, 12 pass from McFadden (kick failed), 7:37.

Team Statistics

YC DC

First downs 15 10

Rushing 45-176 36-189

Passing 7-12-0 1-3-1

Passing yards 142 4

Totals yards 318 193

Fumbles-lost 1-0 2-0

Penalties-yards 2-20 4-35

Punting 2-39.5 4-27.5

Individual Statistics

Rushing: YC-Levan McFadden 18-70, Nick Creisher 3-5, Andrew Adams 22-84, Daniel Devitt 1-(-4), Daniel Sterling 1-21; DC-Landen Eckhart 7-33, Coltyn Keller 12-67, Dylan Staub 14-82, Ryder Noel 3-7.

Passing: YC-McFadden 7-12-0-142; DC-Noel 1-3-1-4.

Receiving: YC-Quinn Brennan 5-99, N. Creisher 1-32, L. Kreiser 1-11; DC-Staub 1-4.

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