Wyoming Valley West Wins Big Over Nazareth Area
Six drives, Six touchdowns and two turnovers doomed Nazareth in the second half
KINGSTON – Wyoming Valley West (11-0) the top seed in the District 2-4-11 Class AAAA subregional game Friday night, rallied from four points down at halftime and was perfect in the second half, 6-for-6, in a crazy 51-34 win over eighth-seed Nazareth Area (5-6).
“It was a wild second half and it was one of the craziest halves of football I have been a part of,” said head football coach Pat Keating. “We came out down four and scored 41 points .”
In the first half, Nazareth’s Travis Stefanik threw two touchdowns of 32 yards and 29 yards to Jahan Dotson. Wyoming Valley West’s Aaron Austin hit Bill Davison for a 12-yard touchdown pass and Jake Gurtis’ 30-yard field goal made it 14-10, Nazareth at halftime.
For the first time this year, Wyoming Valley West trailed at halftime. So, what message would Keating give his kids at halftime?
“We talked at halftime that we have been in close games,” said Keating. “This was the first time we trailed at halftime all year. I am proud of the way the kids came out and responded.”
They did just that. Things got real interesting in the second half. The turning point of the game for the Spartans was the opening kickoff in the second half. The most dangerous playmaker on Wyoming Valley West’s team, Sean Judge, took the kickoff and went 70 yards for the score to give his team their first lead of the night and never looked back.
“We were feeling good leading at halftime,” said Nazareth head football coach Tom Falzone. “Special teams hurt us allowing the kick return and turnovers. But our kids never quit and battled all night.”
The first play of the second half for the Blue Eagles resulted in a fumble recovery by the Spartans Josh Sokoloski. Two plays later Judge took the handoff and went 19 yards for a score to put the Spartans up, 24-14 with 10:56 left in the third quarter.
“Sean is such a spark plug in our offense,” said Keating. “He has made big plays for us all year and did it tonight.”
“To come out and have a big play like that and to score off the turnover and to go up two scores was a huge momentum shift for us,” said Judge.
The Blue Eagles’ next drive ended at the one-yard line on a Spartan defensive stand. But, they gave the ball right back when Nazareth’s Matthew Gillingham recovered the fumble on the Spartans two.
Nazareth’s A.J. Velocity went in from two yards out and the Blue Eagles pulled within four points, down 24-20 with 5:42 left in the third quarter.
The Spartans answered the drive and it only took two plays. Austin hit Devon Weidman for a 33-yard touchdown pass. Nazareth needed just one play to answer their drive. Stefanik hit Dotson for a 59-yard touchdown pass and the Spartans now lead 31-27.
With a minute left in the third quarter, Austin’s scrambling ability created the next touchdown for the Spartans. He found his big tight end, L.J. Wesneski, who caught the ball and broke several tackles on his way to the end zone for a 21-yard touchdown recepetion.
Austin finished the night completing 9 of 13 passes for 115 yards and rushed for 43.
“With his legs he can make plays and he was able to do that tonight,” said Keating.
The Blue Eagles were driving early in the fourth quarter when Stefanik rolled out of the pocket and tried to make a play in the end zone. Wyoming Valley West’s Jake Shemo stepped in front of the pass and intercepted the ball in the end zone. The Spartans took over at their 20 with 11:55 left in the game.
The Spartans third play of the drive was a 77-yard reverse by Weidman to put his team up 44-27. The Blue Eagles still had fight in them and for the fourth time tonight, Stefanik hit Dotson on an 18 yard touchdown pass with 7:58 remaining in the game.
Stefanik finished the night passing for 235 yards and Dotson caught six balls for 172 yards.
The Blue Eagles cut into the Spartans lead, 44-34.
But, the Spartans’ Bill Davison would get the final score of the game on a one-yard touchdown run to seal the win over the Blue Eagles.
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