Leavitt players celebrate their 42-7 victory over York in the Class C South championship game Friday night in Turner. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

TURNER — After each team had the ball once it looked like York High might be able to keep up with Leavitt in the Class C South football final on Friday night.

But three plays that Leavitt made defensively and on special teams turned the game in favor of the Hornets in a big way, and they cruised to a 42-7 victory at Libby Field.

Top-seeded Leavitt (11-0) had just taken the lead back, 14-7, after the second-seeded Wildcats (9-2) led 7-6 after the first two drives. Then the Hornets converted an onside kick, and scored on the ensuing drive to take a 22-7 lead.

“That was a big turning point in the game,” York coach Matt Nelson said.

Wyatt Hathaway’s bouncing squib kick went off a York player and into the diving arms of Leavitt’s Denver Taylor.

“It wasn’t intentionally an onsides,” Leavitt coach Mike Hathaway said. “After that first big return, and they had (Riley) Linn and (Hayden) Henriksen deep, we really didn’t want to kick it to those guys, so we were trying to just kick it a certain area and put it down in there, and we had kind of loaded up some speed on the outside and those guys came down and just made a play.”

The Hornets capped off a nine-play, 44-yard drive with an 18-yard touchdown pass from Hathaway to Cole Morin, the first of three scoring catches in the game for Morin.

York’s Teagan Hynes, left and Riley Linn console each other after Friday night’s loss to Leavitt in Class C South championshp game. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

“We felt like if we could really come out and run the ball early that we would get some play-action stuff because of the amount of man-to-man they play,” Hathaway said. “Obviously Cole was a big target, and they were kind of putting their best guy we thought on Cam (Jordan), so Cole had a good matchup, and we had three or four good plays in the game plan for him, and Wyatt connected, and got some time and we made the play.”

The Hornets did run the ball well, early and often. Damion Calder opened the scoring with a 46-yard touchdown run four plays in, and Leavitt racked up 231 yards on 25 carries in the first half.

Morin’s second touchdown catch was a 59-yarder in the second quarter to make it 30-7. He caught Hathaway’s pass at the back of the secondary and out-ran York defenders the rest of the way.

“I don’t get in that situation very much, so I peaked back there a little bit,” Morin said.

Calder ended the Wildcats’ ensuing drive with an interception of Teagan Hynes, then his twin brother Dasean Calder ran for an 82-yard touchdown on the next play.

“When Dasean comes out and hits that home run, with that long run after that pick, that was a big play,” Hathaway said. “I thought that really tilted the game.”

The Wildcats, who were shut out in the first half of the teams’ regular-season meeting, scored on their opening possession, with Hynes running in from 1 yard out on fourth down. He was also 3-for-3 passing on the drive.

“That’s been the strength of our team all year is our ability to throw the ball,” Nelson said.

But the Wildcats couldn’t complement their passing attack (Hynes was 11 of 24 for 150 yards) with a running game.

York was held to just 16 yards on 10 carries in the first half, including a 1-yard run Linn run short of the goal line on fourth-and-goal with the Wildcats down 22-7 in the first quarter.

“They just played great, solid defense and we just couldn’t punch it through,” Nelson said.

Hathaway finished 6 of 10 for 141 yards and four touchdowns. His 30-yard scoring pass to Jordan gave the Hornets the lead for good in the first quarter.

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