ONEIDA | The Indians won the second half. But York Institute won the first half in a big way, and also won the ballgame, defeating Oneida 28-14 at Jim May Stadium Friday evening to take over the driver's seat in the race for a Region 2-2A championship.
The Dragons scored on all four of their first half possessions, methodically dismantling Oneida en route to a 28-0 halftime lead.
The second half would be a different story, but the Indians simply did not have enough time to complete the comeback, as York did just enough — offensively and defensively — to keep Oneida at arm's length as the clock ticked away.
Junior quarterback Myles Leffew was the biggest difference-maker. The York signal-caller completed six of nine passes for 136 yards and three touchdowns, and added 76 yards on the ground. Rylin Miller rushed for 64 yards.
For Oneida, Westen Hurst was the biggest playmaker on the ground, rushing for 72 yards on 10 carries. Caden Rector completed 10 of 19 passes for 96 yards and a pair of second half touchdowns.
The Indians did not pick up their initial first down of the ballgame until midway through the second quarter, on a 10-yard run by Reice Kennedy. By that time, York was out to a 20-0 lead.
In fact, the first thing that the Indians had to celebrate all night was a blocked extra point attempt by Colten Daugherty after the Dragons scored their third touchdown of the evening.
That came with 6:24 to play before halftime, in a game that had tilted completely in favor of York. The Dragons had scored on an improbable 67-yard touchdown pass on third down to start the game, then scored again after a three-and-out by Oneida.
The first quarter ended with York gaining 124 yards of offense to -12 for Oneida, and that difference showed up on the scoreboard, where the Dragons led 14-0.
The second quarter saw York put together a methodical drive to slowly drive the length of the field and score.
Finally, Oneida began to see things shift in its favor. Daugherty's blocked PAT was the first big play. Kennedy's first down run was the second. Then Hurst broke free for a long run to move the ball inside York's five-yard-line, and the Indians appeared to be in business.
But disaster struck in the form of back-to-back penalties, which backed the ball up from the four to the 19. The Indians would eventually settle for a field goal attempt, but it was wide, and York responded by quickly driving the length of the field to score again just before halftime.
On 4th and 12, Leffew scrambled and found Miller in the back of the end zone. Miller made the catch off a deflection with nine seconds remaining before the half, giving York a 28-0 lead at the intermission.
The third quarter saw Oneida begin to build some momentum. A long pass from Rector to Jeric Huling moved the ball into York territory. Finally, the Indians found the end zone when Rector connected with Daugherty on a fourth down play.
Oneida's defense then got its first stop of the evening, and a York fake punt at midfield was snuffed out by John Selby, giving the Indians good field position.
From there, the Indians again converted on fourth down, then scored two plays later on a Rector-to-Huling pass covering 23 yards, and it was 28-14 with 10:34 remaining.
Oneida wasn't finished. The Indian defense forced York into a three-and-out, and Oneida again had the ball in York territory. But the Indians misfired on several straight looks at the end zone, and the ball went over on downs. From there, York was able to simply grind out the remaining clock, which expired with the Dragons on Oneida's one-yard-line.
The loss snapped Oneida's two-game winning streak, and gave York a leg up in the region race. The Dragons, who finished fourth last season but made a coaching change in the offseason, have already defeated both Oneida and Monterey.
York out-gained Oneida with 351 yards of total offense to the Indians' 172. There were no turnovers in the game.