Dragons Advance In Playoffs With 49-21 Win Over Signal Mountain

The York Dragons took a step forward in the TSSAA State Football Playoffs on Friday, November 3 as they defeated a solid Signal Mountain team 49-21 at the Dragon Pit.

The game saw the Dragons pull out to a 14-0 first period advantage on touchdowns by Cole Cooper and Heath Rexroat, and increased that lead to 28-7 at the half as Ethan Probst and Landrick Leffew scored in the second period.

The Eagles come back with a strong third period effort, outscoring the Dragons 14-0 to close the gap to 28-21 before the Dragons regrouped and blew the game open with 21 points in the final frame to post the 28-point victory.

Heath Rexroat led the York rushing attack with 135 yards on 17 carries and scored a touchdown, while Ethan Probst tallied three touchdowns and 70 yards on 15 carries and caught a pass for another 40 yards.

Quarterback Landrick Leffew added two touchdowns and had 48 yards rushing, and completed 4 of 7 passes for another 136 yards.

Cole Cooper added another touchdown and picked up 32 yards on 11 carries.  He also had four tackles on defense, including a 14-yard sack of Eagle quarterback Tom Vatter.

The Dragons dominated the game for the most part, rolling up 423 yards of offense while holding the Eagles to 217 total yards.  York’s powerful rushing game accounted for 289 yards, while the Eagles got most of their yardage through the air, as quarterback Tom Vatter completed 10 of 28 passes for 176 yards and accounted for all three of his team’s touchdowns, including one of 52 yards.

The Dragon defense was credited with stopping two potential scoring threats including one on the Eagles’ first possession.

Colin Farr took the opening kickoff and returned it 56 yards to  give the Eagles good field position at the Dragon 41, but two plays later, Heath Rexroat intercepted an Eagle pass to give York the ball at their 33, but York was only able to grind out 2 yards before being forced to punt, and Ethan Probst’s boot putting the Eagles back at their own 19.

After allowing the Eagles a first down, the York defense took hold and forced another punt, which York took at their 28 and began their first scoring drive of the night.

Heath Rexroat broke free for a 57-yard gallop to the Eagle 15, with Landrick Leffew then taking  it to the 2, and on the next play, Cole Cooper put York on the scoreboard and Johann West booted his first of 7 straight point-after kicks to put York up 7-0 with 5:28 left in the first period.

Another big defensive play gave York the ball back as Trevor Threet intercepted a pass at the Dragon 48 and returned it to the Eagle 18, and three plays later, Rexroat took it in from the 4 to put York up 14-0 with just over 2 minutes left in the opening period.

After an exchange of punts, Signal Mountain got their only score of the first half when Tom Vetter connected with Drew Lowery for a 52-yard pass completion with 5:34 left in the half to cut the lead to 14-7.

The Dragons responded with two more scores before the half, scoring first on a 6-yard run by Probst to cap an 8-play, 80-yard scoring drive in which the big play was a 40-yard pass from Leffew to Probst.

After holding the Eagles to minus 1 yard on their next possession, the Dragons got the ball back with 38 seconds in the half at their 30.  Leffew then completed a 41-yard pass play to Rexroat for a first down at the Eagle 23, and then connected with Daderick Phillips to the 4, with Leffew taking it in on the final play of the half to put the Dragons up 28-7.

The third period belonged to the Eagles, as they stopped the Dragons at the 3 on their first possession and then put together a 97-yard scoring drive, which was capped by a 21-yard pass from Vetter to Lowery to cut the lead in half at 28-14, and then executed a successful onside kick which resulted in another score to further cut the lead to 28-21, as the score came on another pass from Vatter to Travian Williams to cut the lead to 7 going into the final period.

“We came out in the third period and let them get back into the ballgame,” said Coach Derwin Wright, “but we bowed our backs and made some plays.  Cole Cooper and Josiah Heddings kept pressure on their quarterback, and those two interceptions we made early were big momentum changers.

“But I’m just so proud of the team, my coaching staff, and the fans tonight.  It was just a great team win.”

The Dragons then went to work on both sides of the ball, with the defense shutting down the Eagle offense, and the offense coming alive  to score on three successive possessions to put the game away.

The first score came on a 6-yard run by Probst to cap a 7-play, 80-yard drive.

The second score came after Cole Cooper had sacked Eagle quarterback Vatter on 4th down for a 14-yard loss at the Signal Mountain 6, with Probst taking it in from 2 yards out; and the third and final score of the night coming on a 1-yard score by Leffew with 1:02 left in the game to cap a 9-play, 48-yard drive.

When asked about Red Bank and what he knew about them, Coach Wright said:  “We know that they’re very athletic and run a spread offense much like Signal Mountain.   They have two very good backs, one which has over 1,600 yards who are two guys we’re going to have to do a good job on.   We will have to take care of the football, make long drives to eat the clock, and just play solid, fundamental football.  We also have to do a good job tackling, and our secondary is again going to have to do a good job.

“We’ve been road warriors this year, winning the last four games on the road, so we need to get ready and go to Red Bank and see if we can bring the quarterfinal game back to the Dragon Pit,” he concluded.