DOVER — After a year off from the playoff scene, the Dover High School football team returned to the postseason limelight Nov. 2.
And Whitehall turned out the lights on the Tornadoes.
Senior quarterback Raymell Byrd ran for two touchdowns and passed for two more as Whitehall outscored Dover 38-31 in a Division II, Region 7 first-round game at cool and damp Crater Stadium.
Whitehall improved to 10-1 and will play Massillon Washington (11-0) in a regional semifinal Nov. 9 at a neutral site to be determined. The Tigers defeated Walnut Ridge 45-14 on Nov. 2.
Meanwhile, Dover, which was coming off an impressive 35-0 win over rival New Philadelphia last week, ended its season at 8-3.
Byrd piled up 165 yards on the ground on 23 carries and was 12-for-26 passing for 100 yards.
Dover senior quarterback Alec Sayre threw for a touchdown and ran for another, while senior Kyler Folkert added two rushing scores.
Sayre was 17-for-30 for 234 yards and an interception and ran the ball 15 times for 35 yards. Folkert led the Tornadoes in rushing with 42 yards on nine carries.
Earlier in the week, Dover coach Dan Ifft hoped his Tornadoes wouldn't suffer from a hangover after their emotional win over New Philadelphia.
But it looked that way early on as the hosts had trouble adjusting to the Rams' speed.
After Dover punted on its opening series, Whitehall struck first off a double pass as junior NiKai Cameron took a pass from Byrd and subsequently hit Isaiah Oney with an 80-yard touchdown with 9 minutes, 50 seconds left in the opening quarter.
The Tornadoes handed the Rams two points on their ensuing series after a snap on a punt attempt went out of the end zone at the 8:32 mark and the Rams were up 9-0.
Things got worse when Byrd ripped off a 67-yard scoring run, and the Rams were in charge 16-0 with 7:32 left in the first.
Dover got some momentum by moving the ball down field, but settled for a 26-yard field goal by senior Jack Deneher. Still, the Rams led 16-3.
Whitehall added to its lead in the first when junior Von Williams caught a 26-yard scoring toss from Byrd with 2:58 remaining. That made it 23-3 after one quarter of play.
The Tornadoes needed a spark on offense and senior Ian Sexton helped provide it as he hauled in a 54-yard scoring pass from Sayre with 8:17 left in the second.
The Dover defense responded in kind, led by a jarring hit by Sexton, as it held the Rams to a three-and-out and the Tornadoes got the ball back.
Dover moved down the field and cashed in on a 4-yard scoring run by Sayre with 2:38 left before halftime to make it 23-17.
The Tornadoes held the Rams to a three-and-out to start the third quarter and immediately cashed in offensively.
Folkert scored on a 4-yard run with 7:25 left in the third to give Dover its first lead at 24-23.
After a big punt return by Byrd, he connected with senior Christian Gordon on a 27-yard scoring pass to put the Rams back in the lead 30-24 at the 5:22 mark.
Whitehall's lead was short-lived after Folkert tallied again on a 2-yard run with 1:03 left in the third, making it 31-30 with a quarter to play.
However, Whitehall got the last score, and the biggest, when Byrd scored on a 1-yard run with 7:22 remaining. His two-point conversion run gave the Rams a 38-31 lead.
Dover had the ball twice from there on out, but the Rams’ defense denied the Tornadoes each time. The last time was with 1:47 left as a pass from Sayre to Sexton fell incomplete.
Whitehall took over and then ran out the clock for the victory.
“When we jumped out to an early lead, we knew it was a matter of time that Dover made adjustments," Whitehall coach Rod Lightfoot said. "They have an explosive offense. We said it was like two heavyweights slugging it out."