Stone Memorial Wins Big at York Institute, 44-7

By Michael Lindsay


There are big wins, then there are statement wins.

The AP No. 9 Stone Memorial Panthers made a statement Friday evening in Jamestown, defeating the York Institute Dragons, 44-7.

“The boys came out and played well,” said SMHS head coach Derik Samber. “There were still some turnovers, but it was good to get up on a team, finish a team off and get those young guys some reps.”

Stone Memorial improves to 6-0 with the non-region victory while York Institute falls to 4-2.

With the Panthers coming off a dramatic win against AP top-10 Upperman last week, some doubted the Panthers in their trip to York.

“There’s a lot of talk of ‘trap games,’ and I think that’s a media creation,” said Samber. “I was excited to see what these kids were going to do next. Our heads were on straight.”

Panther senior quarterback Hunter Heavilon added 3 touchdowns to his season total Friday with a passing and two rushing touchdowns. Heavilon went 4-10 for 71 yards through the air and rushed for 49 yards.

Stone Memorial senior Kaleb Flowers continued his electric play as he found the end zone twice in the first half, including a 95-yard interception return for a touchdown.

“I saw it in the air, and when I went up there and got it I saw a perfect lane,” Flowers said. “My guys blocked for me, and I got it to the end zone.”

Kaleb wasn’t the only Flowers to get his hands on an interception as Panther safety Blayten Flowers snagged one as well.

“Blayten Flowers had a big pick that swung the game,” Samber said. “We had just thrown a pick, and he got it back for us the very next play.

“Bear Eldridge was big; he picked one himself,” added Samber. “York had a receiver we were pretty worried about, and Bear was on him.”

The typically pass-happy Panthers found success on the ground against York as Houston Woody rushed for 142 yards on 12 carries.

“We ran the ball well, which was good to see,” Samber said. “We had been pass-heavy early in the season and balanced that out tonight. Houston Woody with the big night tonight, and he got behind that offensive line and did a great job.”

Stone Memorial struck first with a touchdown on their opening possession, a 1-yard QB sneak by Heavilon. Justin Barnett’s PAT made the score 7-0 in favor of SMHS with 9:50 left in the first period.

Stone Memorial’s defense followed with a fourth-down stop near midfield on York’s opening drive, setting the Panthers up with excellent field position.

Heavilon then found Flowers on the front-left corner of the end zone a few plays later for a 25-yard touchdown pass to give Stone Memorial a 14-0 lead with 6:35 left in the first quarter.

York Institute found a stroke of luck on the ensuing kickoff as the Panthers attempted an onside kick that was returned by the Dragons inside the 20-yard line.

York Institute quarterback Myles Leffew took matters into his own hands a few plays later, rushing in a 12-yard touchdown to get the Dragons on the board, 14-7, with 5:35 left in the opening quarter.

On the second play of the second period, Heavilon recorded his second one-yard touchdown run of the first half, this one on fourth down, to put Stone Memorial up 21-7 with 11:17 left until halftime.

York Institute threatened Stone Memorial on their ensuing drive, moving inside the 30-yard line before an arrant Dragon pass was intercepted by Kaleb Flowers and returned 95 yards for an SMHS touchdown. The pick-six gave Stone Memorial a 28-7 lead with 8:56 left in the second quarter, a score that would stand until halftime.

With an offensive and defensive score recorded, Stone Memorial’s special teams stepped up in the second half. With 6:04 left in the third quarter, Barnett nailed a 30-yard field goal to put SMHS up 31-7.

The Panther special teams unit wasn’t satisfied with a field goal, however, as Brady Lane blocked a York punt on the ensuing possession that Cole Dayton returned to the end zone for a touchdown, putting SMHS ahead 38-7 with 4:09 left in the third quarter.

With a running clock in effect, Stone Memorial scored late in the fourth quarter as Braden Looper connected with Konner Melton for a touchdown pass to make the final score 44-7.

The victory is extra special for Samber, a York Institute alum.

“It means a lot; this is where I played and started my head coaching career,” he said. “To come back here and get a win is important.”

The 6-0 Panthers still have plenty to clean up, though.

“We’ve probably been negative in the turnover margin all year and especially the last three weeks, but we got three big wins,” Samber said. “That speaks to our defense bowing their backs, and our team as a whole responding. Some of that is on me getting greedy, and some of those are just flukey plays.

“We have to clean that up one way or another. To get where we want to go, you can’t turn the ball over.”

Stone Memorial (6-0) returns to Region 4-4A play next week against a familiar foe as they travel 4.1 miles to Cumberland County High School.

York Institute makes the trip to Eastern Time next week as they face Region 2-2A foe Wartburg (1-4).

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