KINGSTON — For the first 24 minutes on Friday night at Spartan Stadium, Wyoming Valley West was held to just 10 points and the team trailed at halftime for the first time all season.
It took less than a minute into the second half for the Spartans to surpass those 10 points, set the tone for the rest of the game and get things rolling in a 51-34 win over Nazareth in the District 2/4-11 quarterfinals.
With the win, the Spartans managed to complete two goals. They secured the District 2 Class 4A championship and won their first game against a District 11 opponent in the D2/4-11 subregional. Previously, Valley West had lost six straight games to D11 teams in the current format, which has been in effect since 2002. The Spartans will host the winner of Saturday’s Stroudsburg and Bethlehem Liberty contest next weekend.
“Fortunately for us we made more plays than them tonight and came out on top,” Spartans coach Pat Keating said. “We achieved two goals tonight that we wanted to. We’re just gonna keep moving forward. It’s a very resilient group and the road’s not gonna get any easier than this.”
Wyoming Valley West trailed at halftime to the Blue Eagles 14-10, but what was to come was a crazy third quarter which consisted of 41 combined points and turned that four-point deficit into a two-score WVW lead by the time the stanza was over about 45 minutes later.
Sean Judge, who rushed for a game-high 119 yards on 17 carries, re-energized the Spartans right after halftime. He fielded the opening kick of the half and returned it 70 yards for a touchdown giving Valley West it’s first lead of the game, 17-14.
When Nazareth got the ball back, it fumbled on the first play from scrimmage and the Spartans’ Josh Sokoloski jumped on it. Valley West’s second play after that was a 19-yard touchdown rumble from Judge giving the Spartans a 24-14 lead, and they never looked back.
“We were down but we knew we weren’t out of the game,” Judge said about the halftime deficit. “We had to keep our heads up and come out and knew we were gonna give them a fight.”
While WVW scored a pair of touchdowns in just 54 seconds in a span of four plays, the crazy third quarter was just starting. At one point in the stanza, the teams scored three touchdowns on four plays from scrimmage.
It started after the Spartans had an incredible goaline stand stopping the Blue Eagles on five plays inside the 6 yard line, and two of those were on the 1 as Nazareth turned the ball over on downs. But when Valley West got the ball back, it fumbled away.
Three plays later, Nazareth pulled within 24-20 on a 2-yard TD run by A.J. Vlastay. The Spartans’ second play after that TD was a 34-yard TD strike from Aaron Austin to Devon Weidman.
On Nazareth’s next play after that TD, the team connected on a 59-yard TD strike from Travis Stefanik to Jahan Dotson for their third of four touchdown hookups on the night. That pulled the Blue Eagles within 31-27.
After Valley West went back up by 11 on a 21-yard connection from Austin to L.J. Wesneski, Jake Shemo picked off a Stefanik pass in the end zone. The Spartans took advantage of the takeaway as Devon Weidman sprinted to the end zone on a 77-yard TD run early in the fourth quarter putting the team up 44-27 and demoralizing Nazareth’s chances.
The Spartans made a statement in the second half scoring all six drives.
“I think it says that we can play with anyone,” Judge said. “I think it’s a huge win because we beat a team from District 11 and now see what we can do the rest of the postseason.”
D2/4-11 4A Quarterfinals
Wyoming Valley West 51, Nazareth 34
Wyo. Valley West`7`3`28`13`—`51
NAZ — Jahan Dotson 32 pass from Travis Stefanik (Termini kick) 6:16
WVW — Billy Davison 12 pass from Aaron Austin (Jake Gurtis kick) 3:56
NAZ — Dotson 29 pass from Stefanik (Termini kick) 2:03
WVW — Gurtis 30 field goal 3:01
WVW — Sean Judge 70 kick return (Gurtis kick) 11:50
WVW — Judge 19 run (Gurtis kick) 10:56
NAZ — A.J. Vlasaty 2 run (kick failed) 5:42
WVW — Devon Weidman 34 pass from Austin (Gurtis kick) 4:42
NAZ — Dotson 59 pass from Stefanik (Termini kick) 4:26
WVW — L.J. Wesneski 21 pass from Austin (Gurtis kick) 1:00
WVW — Weidman 77 run (kick blocked) 10:11
NAZ — Dotson 18 pass from Stefanik (Termini kick) 7:58
WVW —Davison 2 run (Gurtis kick) 2:02
RUSHING — NAZ, Nick Schepis 9-38, Julian Liaci 4-11, Travis Stefanik 16-75, A.J. Vlasaty 3-12. WVW, Aaron Austin 11-44, Billy Davison 11-56, Sean Judge 17-119, Devon Weidman 4-117, Chris Melovitz 1-5, TEAM 1-(minus-2).
PASSING — NAZ, Stefanik 10-20-1-233. WVW, Austin 9-13-1-114
RECEIVING — NAZ, Jahan Dotson 6-172, Liaci 2-3, Jared Henn 2-57. WVW, Weidman 4-64, Judge 2-12, Davison 1-12, L.J. Wesneski 2-24.
INTERCEPTIONS — NAZ, Jagar Keiser 1-27. WVW, Jake Shemo 1-0.
MISSED FGs — none