On a night when Lafayette High again rushed for more than 300 yards, it was a pass that set the stage for a dramatic victory. The pass was Connor McGinty's 39-yard completion to Thomas Smith with the game tied and under a minute remaining.
Moments later, McGinty calmly placed down a high snap on Jacob Vaught's 25-yard field-goal attempt. Vaught just as calmly split the uprights on his kick with four seconds to play in the game, giving Lafayette a 45-42 win over York in their Bay Rivers District game on Friday at Wanner Stadium.
"There's a ton of pressure being homecoming night," Vaught said. "It was a team effort on the kick, part snap, part hold and part kick."
The victory was a crucial one as it keeps Lafayette (6-2, 5-2) in position to reach the Region I Division 4 playoffs. York (4-4, 4-3) saw its hopes of a return trip to playoffs ended, but was impressive in amassing 525 yards in defeat.
"That was typical Bay Rivers District football — crazy," York coach Doug Pereira said. "Neither team could stop the other."
So, not surprisingly, players put up big numbers all over the place. Lafayette running back Will Capers, the district rushing leader, ran for 202 yards and three touchdowns.
His backfield mate, Brandon Jones ran for 101 yards, including a 14-yard gain to the six on the play before Vaught's kick. Jones also ran a kickoff back 94 yards for a touchdown.
York quarterback Alex Johnston had a monster night, completing 12-of-20 passes for 239 yards and two touchdowns, in addition to running for two TDs. York had another 286 yards on the ground, with Jake Norman (104 yards, one TD) and Tre Thomas (101 yards) both surpassing 100.
Lafayette had the better of it in the first half, and gave the homecoming crowd plenty to feel good about in taking a 28-14 edge to intermission. Amid all of the offense, two defensive players were crucial.
The Rams pressured York punter Johnnie Howell to scramble on the first series of the game, dropping him for a 4-yard loss. That led to McGinty's 12-yard touchdown run, set up by his beautiful ball-fake to Capers.
Jones' kickoff return was the other big highlight for the Rams in the first half. But York kept pace with several big first-half pass plays.
One was Johnston's 20-yard pass to wide-open Brad Myers for a touchdown over the middle in the second quarter. The pair hooked up on almost exactly the same play later in the second quarter for a 49-yard gain on a drive when the Falcons moved to the Rams' 1
But Lafayette lineman Nick Kepa stopped Thomas inches short of the goal line on a fourth-down run, a play that would come back to haunt the Falcons.
York was the aggressor to start the second half, tying the game at 28 with a 10-play touchdown drive, followed by a seven-play scoring drive. Johnston ran in from the 1 to cap the first drive, before Anthony Honey went 26 yards for a TD on the second.
Only one play after the kickoff, Capers ran 74 yards to put Lafayette ahead 35-28. York retaliated with an 82-yard touchdown drive to tie it at 35, then Lafayette went 73 yards for a score to go ahead 42-35, before York went 53 yards on 11 plays, tying the game at 42 on Norman's 6-yard touchdown run with 1:00 to go.
In this shootout, that was plenty of time for Lafayette to get a score and remain in the playoff hunt.
"We had to do this together and play as a team," Lafayette coach Paul Wheeler said. "We can't do it on talent."
LAFAYETTE 45, YORK 42
York 7 7 14 14 - 42
Lafayette 14 14 7 10 - 45
Laf: McGinty 12 run (kick blocked)
Yor: Myers 20 pass from Johnston (Howell kick)
Laf: Jones 94 kickoff return (Capers run)
Laf: Capers 3 run (Vaught kick)
Yor: Bauder 76 pass from Johnston (Howell kick)
Laf: Jones 3 run (Vaught kick)
Yor: Johnston 1 run (Howell kick)
Yor: Honey 26 run (Howell kick)
Laf: Capers 74 run (Vaught kick)
Yor: Johnston 1 run (Howell kick)
Laf: Capers 6 run (Vaught kick)
Yor: Norman 6 run (Howell kick)
Laf: FG Vaught 25
First downs 23 17
Rushes-yards 59-286 37-325
Passing yards 239 60
Comp-Att-Int 12-20-0 3-5-0
Penalties-yards 7-30 1-9
Punts-avg. 1-0 3-29.7