If Littlestown running backs Dustin DeGroft and Lucas Reynolds were thunder and lightning Friday night, it was Reynolds' flashes that blinded York Catholic in the Thunderbolts' 21-7 victory.
DeGroft rushed 22 times for 87 yards, but Reynolds broke off long runs and scored all three of Littlestown's touchdowns at York Catholic High School.
A converted receiver, Reynolds finished with 190 yards on the ground to echo a change of pace for the normally balanced Bolts.
Littlestown (5-0, 4-0 YAIAA Division III) has the YAIAA's leading passer in Trevor Hildebrand, but coach Mike Lippy hesitated to air it out.
"Every time, on first down, I'm not normally afraid to throw the ball," Lippy said. "Tonight things just weren't working out too well."
He feared second-and-10.
Lippy would ask himself, would he then have to pass again?
"I felt cautious," he said. "I didn't want that one turnover. I didn't want that 7-0 score to turn into 14."
Such was the dilemma created by a York Catholic team (2-3, 1-3) that stopped Littlestown on four straight goal-line plays in the second quarter. Before Littlestown could regroup, Fighting Irish quarterback Hakeem Kinard engineered the Fighting Irish to the go-ahead touchdown in a defensive battle.
York Catholic's 7-0 halftime lead provided a small reversal of last season's game, when the Irish rallied with 24 fourth-quarter points. Friday night, Littlestown needed its own comeback, which didn't happen in four blowout wins to start the season.
Lippy admitted to feeling nerves, but he tried not to show it to his players at halftime. He simply told them: "That was their half. We need our half."
He reminded them they won the opening coin toss and deferred to receive the second-half kickoff for situations like this one. They responded by taking nine plays to drive 75 yards, ending with Reynolds' 35-yard TD to tie the score. He later scored again, this time from just 2 yards out and to cap a longer, 14-play 81-yard drive.
"It was easier to run," Reynolds said of the third quarter. "I think our linemen were getting into it, seeing what their techniques were. We needed to win."
Of Reynolds' massive rushing numbers, 145 yards came in the second half.
"I think they wore us down a little bit," York Catholic coach Eric Depew said. "I think the numbers situation hurt us a little bit.
"I think they had some guys going one way, where we don't have that advantage. We're down to 25, 26 kids. That's something we've got to overcome."
The Irish nearly did that against Division III's co-leaders. They sacked Hildebrand early in the first quarter, which Lippy swore had not happened to his quarterback all season, and they did it two more times. Irish senior linebacker Doug Mills kept Hildebrand's passing off balance by batting down passes and helping provide the chase Lippy said he had not previously felt.
Depew called Mills' play the best game he saw from a linebacker in 25 years.
Lippy, relieved his team came back to survive, said: "It shocks me that they're 2-2."
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Littlestown 0 0 14 7 -- 21
York Catholic 0 7 0 0 -- 7
YC -- Jack Burnside 1 run (Dan Yokemick kick), 3:45.
Lt -- Lucas Reynolds 35 run (Jeff Garmen kick), 9:02.
Lt -- Reynolds 2 run (Garmen kick), 1:21.
Lt -- Reynolds 47 run (Garmen kick), 1:46.
-- Lt -- YC
First downs -- 15 -- 12
Rushes-yards -- 58-308 -- 27-125
Passing -- 5-14-1 -- 14-36-0
Passing yards -- 29 -- 139
Total yards -- 337 -- 264
Punts -- 7-29.3 -- 9-28.7
Fumbles-lost -- 2-0 -- 0-0
Penalties-yards -- 2-5 -- 4-24
Rushing -- Lt, Dustin DeGroft 22-87, Reynolds 18-190, Trevor Hildebrand 7-(-1), Zach Brown 2-5, L.J. Miles 8-20, Todd Cook 1-7. YC, Hakeem Kinard 17-96, Burnside 10-29.
Passing -- Lt, Hildebrand 5-14-1-29. YC, Kinard 14-36-0-139.
Receiving -- Lt, Austin Towner 2-13, Garrett Trout 1-10, Miles 1-0, Reynolds 1-6. YC, Qua'Shawn Grooms 9-108, Scott Bartkowiak 2-17, Yokemick 1-7, Miles Elliott 1-6, Burnside 1-1.