KNIGHTS MARCH: #6 York/Pavilion posts road shutout vs #3 Notre Dame in Class D Football Quarterfinal

Posted By on Oct 20, 2018 | 0 comments


Alex Brasky | @BataviasBestHS
Saturday, October 20, 2018 | BataviasBest.org

 

The day was Friday, September 21, and the York/Pavilion Golden Knights football team had just lost their third game of the young season  – falling to 1-4 on the year. Hopes were at an all-time low at that point for the Knights and their fans, as this was supposed to be ‘the year’ that their team got over the hump, and into the postseason as a contender.

The York/Pavilion ground attack carried the day for the Knights’ offense. (Photo credit: Alex Brasky | Batavia’s Best)

Fast forward almost a month exactly to this afternoon – Saturday, October 20 – and my, how things have changed.

Hopes are now at an all-time high in Knights’ country following York/Pavilion’s road shutout victory over top-three seed Notre Dame on Saturday – as their team is one win away from the Section V Class D Finals.

You may wonder what changed for York/Pavilion, but if you ask Knights’ RB Sebastian Hackett the answer is simple.

“We started playing with a lot of heart,” he mentioned to me in my postgame interview.

The Knights’ defense saved their best performance of the season for their most-important game of the season. (Photo credit: Alex Brasky | Batavia’s Best)

First-year Y/P head coach Kurt Schneider also praised the internal fortitude of his team this season, and their ability to battle through what was a rocky start to the year.

“They’ve just been grinding and each week we’ve gotten a little bit better,” said Schneider. “Guys have been busting their tails since the spring and it’s starting to pay off. We’re starting to believe that we can be a good football team and roll a little bit.”

Boy, did the Knights roll on Saturday – specifically on defense.

First-year York/Pavilion head coach Kurt Schneider led his Knights to their first playoff berth in over ten years. (Photo credit: Alex Brasky | Batavia’s Best)

A road shutout in an upset victory during sectional play is not something that comes around every year, and what York/Pavilion accomplished yesterday was inspiring.

“It’s a big deal (to the community),” said Knights’ RB Nate Swede following the win. “We haven’t been here in a long time. We’re really happy to be at the point we’re at right now.”

The Knights’ defense held the Irish down all day long and limited the ND offense to what I believe was a single trip inside the red zone. They also won the turnover battle 4-0.

“We knew it was going to be a crappy day,” said York/Pavilion LB Colby Tillotson after the game. “So we knew we would have to break down and do a good job tackling. We did that today.”

Yesterday’s game started slow, with each team trading empty possessions throughout the first quarter of play. During the second frame, however, York/Pavilion finally broke through with their biggest offensive play of the day – a 65-yard touchdown run from RB Hackett.

The touchdown came with 3:44 left in the first half and was largely a result of a huge pass interference penalty on the Irish, which came the play before the score and gave the Knights a first down instead of what would have been an upcoming fourth down.

Following the touchdown, another big mistake by the Irish set up Y/P with another chance to do damage before the halftime bell. An errant pass from Irish QB Colin McCulley was snagged out of the air by Hackett, who returned the interception all the way to ND’s 10-yard line.

Despite what appeared to be a major crisis was quickly averted, however, as the Irish defense stood tall and held the Knights from reaching pay dirt. The Irish would go on to kneel out the final :30 of play, and at the break it was 6-0 York/Pavilion.

The third quarter was much like the first, as the game slowed back down to a snails pace, with each team trading punts throughout, until finally, with 0:06 remaining in the frame York/Pavilion RB Swede managed to find room and bust out a big gain to set his team up with a chance to extend their lead.

Shortly after the big gain from Swede, a minute and a half into the fourth, he found his way into the end zone. The short touchdown plunge put the Knights ahead 12-0, as they failed to convert on the two-point try for the second-consecutive time – something they’ll want to sure up heading into next week.

After Y/P’s second score the Irish mounted what was their best drive of the day, and worked the ball all the way inside the red zone.

However, as had been the case in every key situation on Saturday, York/Pavilion came up with a big play when they needed it most, as Notre Dame mishandled a snap and the Knights recovered.

Following the turnover, though, Y/P failed to mount a clock-draining drive and quickly punted the ball back to Notre Dame – who made another huge mistake.

On what turned out to be the biggest play of the game for Y/P defensively, Tillotson forced an ND fumble on an attempted reverse play, and the ball was recovered by Knights’ DL James Kennedy, which ended the Notre Dame drive. The recovery by the Knights then led to their third touchdown of the day – a Tillotson rushing score – which served as the nail in ND’s coffin.

The Knights’ rushing trio of Tillotson, Hackett, and Swede combined for 178 rushing yards on 35 carries on Saturday, including the 3 rushing touchdowns.

“(Throughout our win streak) our line started bullying the other team,” said Hackett after the game about his team’s recent success running the ball. “That has opened up big holes for (Nate, Colby, and I.)”

Defensively it was a long list of contributors leading the way for the Knights.

LB Keith Muckle led the team with 9 tackles, while DL Ryley Elliot was just behind him with 8 of his own, 1 for a loss, 1 sack, and 1 fumble recovery. DB Hackett finished the day with 5 tackles and the first half interception, and DE Riley Stella made 6 tackles, 2 of which came for a loss.

LB Ethan Doran also intercepted a Notre Dame pass and finished the game with 4 tackles, while LB Tillotson recorded 2 sacks to go with his 7 tackles. Rounding out the list of defensive stalwarts for Y/P was DL James Kennedy, who had 4 tackles and a fumble recovery.

The Knights’ didn’t allow Notre Dame to get anything going through the pass game on Saturday. (Photo credit: Alex Brasky | Batavia’s Best)

Moving forward, York/Pavilion will now look ahead to the Section V Class D Semifinal, where they will face-off with #2 Canisteo-Greenwood – a team which defeated the Knights’ 28-3 earlier this season. The other two teams left standing in Class D, #1 Alexander and #3 Perry/Mt. Morris, have also already beaten Y/P (5-3) this season.

“We know there are nothing but good football teams left (in the playoffs),” said Schneider after the game. “Alexander, Canisteo-Greenwood, Perry/Mt. Morris – all really good, all teams we’ve played, and those are our three losses right there.”

It won’t be easy for the Knights next week, as they will head to Cal-Mum HS on Saturday where they’ll be set to take on the Redskins (6-2) at 7:00 pm – which is the nightcap of a Class D doubleheader. However, if they’re able to once again pull the upset, this time over a team that already beat them, the Knights will have officially proven themselves to be a championship-caliber team.

Look for continued coverage of the Section V Football Playoffs, which continues this week.

 

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