YORK — With the result hanging in the balance against its arch-rival, York High called on its biggest players, and one of its smallest, to carry the day.
York's huge offensive line, and diminutive running back Marcus Wakelyn, were the stars of the winning touchdown drive in a 31-24 Bay Rivers District victory Friday over Grafton.
Wakelyn carried 10 times for 45 yards as the Falcons (8-2, 7-2 district) drove 54 yards on 13 running plays, covering 6 minutes, 23 seconds, to secure the victory. Wakelyn, a 5-foot-8, 175-pound senior, ran in from 1 yard to give the Falcons a 31-24 lead with 1:20 to play.
He ran on the final drive behind the Falcons' big linemen: Cody Hendrickson (255 pounds), Samontae Bailey (325), Johnny Cruz (310), Coleman Ingram (265) and Hobie Kopczynski (220). The Reynolds brothers clinched the game moments after Wakelyn's TD, as older brother Malcolm forced a Grafton fumble and Darius recovered it.
The Falcons move into the Region I Division 3 playoffs and will host Poquoson (4-6) in the first round on Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Bailey Field. Lafayette (9-1) will be the No. 1 seed in that bracket because previously unbeaten James Monroe (9-1) lost to Chancellor.
Surprisingly, Grafton (4-6, 4-5) appears to have made the Region I Division 4 playoffs as the No. 6 and final seed. Chancellor's victory, and Powhatan's win over Charlottesville, eliminated Tabb (4-6) in favor of Grafton.
Jamestown (4-6) needed a win to get in at No. 6, but the Eagles lost 27-0 to Warhill, which is in a No. 5 seed. Smithfield (9-1) is in the D-4 regional, as the No. 1 or No. 2 seed.
York's amassed 430 yards of offense, but needed the late drive to survive a seesaw second half. Dylan Bartells' beautiful 48-yard pass to Marcus Spearman set up Spearman's 2-yard run that put Grafton up 17-14 early in the second half.
York snatched the lead back 21-17 on Tywaun Lewis' nice 41-yard touchdown reception while falling down on a pass from Austin Norman. Hunter Strack's 30-yard field goal stretched the York margin to 24-17.
Several clutch passes by Evan Sperling, including an 18-yard TD pass over the middle to Spearman, pulled Grafton into a 24-all tie with 7:50 left in the game.
An exchange of punts to open the game gave York great field position at the Grafton 31. Norman's 17-yard run on first down made it better.
Following Dalton's Dye's 8-yard run on the next play, Norman ran to paydirt from 6 yards out to give York a 7-0 lead.
Grafton retaliated with a 68-yard touchdown drive sparked by Sperling's 46-yard completion to Bryan Mitchell over the middle on third-and-11. That led to Bartells' 1-yard touchdown run that knotted the score at 7 with 1:39 to play in the first quarter.
Lewis moved York back in front 14-7 just 14 seconds later, running 80 yards untouched. The score was set up beautifully by Norman, who play-faked to Chris Spruill before pitching to his right to the speedy Lewis.
Deshon Rorie's 20-plus-yard kickoff return started Grafton at its 42. Three Bartells runs totaling 15 yards and another 29 yards in York penalties moved Grafton inside the Falcons' 15.
That set up Brian Anderson's 29-yard field goal that pulled Grafton to within 14-10 early in the second quarter.
York continued to move, driving to the Clippers' 20 on their next possession, before Jacob Mazagajewski halted the drive by recovering a Falcons fumble.
YORK 31, GRAFTON 24
York 14;0;7;10 - 31
Grafton 7;3;7;7 - 24
York: Norman 6 run (Strack kick), 6:35
Graf: Bartells 1 run (Anderson kick), 1:39
York: Lewis 80 run (Strack kick), 1:25
Graf: FG Anderson 29, 10:24
Graf: Spearman 2 run (Anderson kick), 9:50
York: Lewis 41 pass from Norman (Strack kick), 6:19
York: FG Strack 30, 9:30
Graf: Spearman 18 pass from Sperling (Anderson kick), 7:50
York: Wakelyn 1 run (Strack kick), 1:20
First downs 18;10
Rushes-yards 48-311; 24-12
Passing yards 119; 184
Comp-Att-Int 6-10-0; 9-14-0
Penalities-yards 9-75; 6-31
Punts-avg 2-32; 3-36.3