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Blue Devils' offense bails out defense in playoff win

November 08, 2008|By CHRIS CARTER

GREENCASTLE, Pa. -- Many defenses survive by "Bend, don't break" football.

Well, the Greencastle-Antrim defense broke Friday night against Kennard-Dale. But the offense picked up the pieces.

The Greencastle defense surrendered 449 yards of total offense -- 341 on the ground -- but the offense bailed the team out with two key fourth-quarter drives to hold off the Rams 42-39 in the first round of the PIAA District 3 playoffs at Kaley Field.

The playoff win is the first in school history for the Blue Devils, who also reached 10 wins for the first time and will host Garden Spot -- a 46-34 winner against Lebanon -- next weekend.

"It's a tribute to the players, who worked hard, played hard and stuck together. And to the coaching staff," said Blue Devils coach Chuck Tinninis. "A lot of people waited a long time for this."

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Most -- including Tinninis -- had to wait longer than they would have liked.

Greencastle (10-1) took a 21-6 lead with 4:48 left in the first half before the defense began to buckle. The Blue Devils gave up a pair of scores with under three minutes remaining before halftime to tighten their edge to 21-18.

Things went from bad to worse to open the third quarter, as Kennard-Dale (5-6) covered 63 yards on two plays to take its first lead of the game at 25-21.

Rams QB Duncan Leftridge ran in the go-ahead touchdown and had 181 rushing yards -- 109 in the second half -- as he directed the option offense.

Leftridge passed for 108 yards on just three completions -- two for touchdowns.

"I thought the defense would do much better than we did," said senior Seth Shindle. "I missed a lot of tackles and we just didn't play well as a unit. Our defense hasn't played well since Shippensburg (Sept. 12). We just have to pick up the intensity, practice harder and play harder."

Shindle was part of the problem on defense, but he was also part of the solution on offense, tallying 119 total yards.

The lead changed hands four times in the second half -- and the last time had plenty to do with the 5-foot-9, 160-pound back.

Trailing 31-28 in the fourth quarter, Greencastle took over on downs at its own 12-yard-line and moved the ball to its own 31, where it faced a third-and-8. It was on that play that quarterback Adam Ritchey stood tough in the pocket and found a wide-open Shindle in the flat. He turned it into a 43-yard catch-and-run to put Greencastle at the Rams 26.

The Blue Devils scored three plays later -- on a Tyler Szaflarski 7-yard run -- to take a 35-31 lead.

"I'm pretty much always open on that play but it wasn't there right away because of the outside linebacker," Shindle said of the Blue Devils' longest play of the game -- and quite possibly the biggest. "Once I got the ball I just tried to make something happen."

The Blue Devils forced a three-and-out -- only their second of the game -- on the next possession and they virtually put the game away on Devin Schaeffer's 35-yard score on another third down for a 42-31 advantage with 45 seconds left.

Ritchey finished 8-for-11 for 117 yards and three touchdowns (one rushing), hitting Szaflarski and Denton Ensminger for 10-yard strikes. Szaflarski finished with a team-high 81 yards rushing and Grant Meyers added a rushing score for the Blue Devils.

Greencastle had the ball for 7:33 of the last 9:04 of the game.

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