SLATINGTON – Momentum came to Wyoming Area the same way it had most of the season.
Quarterback Nick O'Brien made a couple moves. The only defender with a chance to take down the school's all-time leading rusher was pancaked by lineman Joe Erzar. Touchdown.
But unlike those victories on the way to the PIAA Class 2A first round Saturday afternoon, seizing full control was unattainable.
Wyoming Area's next possession ended 9 yards from the end zone as did the Warriors' last real hope as Pen Argyl went on for a 21-7 victory at Northern Lehigh High School.
District 11 champion Pen Argyl (11-2) moves to the quarterfinals against District 12 champ Imhotep Charter (13-0) at 1 p.m. Saturday at Northern Lehigh.
District 2 champ Wyoming Area ended its year at 10-3.
Trailing 14-0 midway through the third quarter, O'Brien woke up a Wyoming Area offense plagued by mistakes and penalties with a 19-yard run. (The Warriors had 24-yard TD run in the second quarter negated by a holding penalty).
Three plays later, O'Brien scored on a 31-yard run to move the Warriors within 14-7.
I felt pretty good, Wyoming Area senior receiver Jordan Zezza said. I felt the energy of our team completely rise up and felt their team was down a little bit.
Wyoming Area linebacker Jeff Skursky gave his team another jolt with a hit that forced a fumble on Pen Argyl's ensuing possession. The Green Knights recovered the ball, but had to punt and O'Brien returned the kick 31 yards to the Pen Argyl 23.
The Warriors moved the ball to a second-and-goal at the 3. The momentum started to swing on that play as O'Brien was tackled in the backfield.
We were coming down (the field), O'Brien said. That loss of 5 yards at the beginning of the fourth quarter when it was 14-7 really killed us and ended our drive right there.
Pen Argyl took a calculated gamble on the second-down play.
We were fortunate there, Pen Argyl coach Paul Reduzzi said. We decided we were going to come off the edge and go hard. They had hurt us earlier in the game when we sent too much.
Wyoming Area came away with no points after an incomplete pass and a missed 27-yard field goal.
Pen Argyl's throwback single-wing offense then ate up much of the fourth quarter with an 11-play, 80-yard scoring drive, capped by a 37-yard TD run by Mike DePaolo.
Two plays helped the Green Knights greatly on the scoring drive that gave them a 21-7 lead with 5:09 to play.
On the second play of the possession, DePaolo ran into a pile of players in the middle and the ball exited the other end. O'Brien pounced on the ball at the Pen Argyl 35, but an official blew his whistle well after the recovery and ruled that DePaolo was down. Wyoming Area jumped offside on the next play, giving the Green Knights another set of downs.
Credit to our kids, Wyoming Area coach Randy Spencer said. The second half we came back and put ourselves in position. We had the momentum. We just didn't stick the second one in there. Otherwise, I would have liked our shot with a few minutes left in the game.
Wyoming Area trailed only 7-0 at halftime despite being outgained 257-76 in the first two quarters. The Warriors had the ball in the red zone on their third possession, but had the drive stall at the Pen Argyl 18. A pass off a fake field goal attempt fell incomplete on fourth down.
Wyoming Area also had two incompletions end its next drive where O'Brien had a 24-yard TD run wiped out by a penalty.
DePaolo finished with 33 carries for 219 yards, the most by a back against Wyoming Area this season. His workload increased when 1,400-yard rusher Mike Racciato was injured on a shoestring tackle on a 51-yard run midway through the first quarter.
PIAA Class 2A Playoffs
Pen Argyl 21, Wyoming Area 7
PA – Mike DePaolo 48 run (Jacob Krincek kick), 1:48
PA – DePaolo 1 run (Krincek kick), 6:38
WA – Nick O'Brien 31 run (A.J. Lenkaitis kick), 4:12
PA – DePaolo 37 run (Krincek kick), 5:09
|Team Statistics||Wyo Area||Pen Argyl|
|Time of possession||17:23||30:37|
RUSHING – Wyoming Area, O'Brien 20-117, Cody Schmitz 3-22, Zak LaNunziata 2-3. Pen Argyl, Mike Racciato 2-49, DePaolo 33-219, Nick Oyer 11-29, Ryan Lobb 4-(minus-6), team 1-(minus-1).
PASSING – Wyoming Area, O'Brien 3-15-4-74. Penn Argyl, Oyer 2-6-1-39, DePaolo 1-2-0-(minus-4), Ryan Hunt 0-1-0-0.
RECEIVING – Wyoming Area, Jordan Zezza 3-74. Pen Argyl, Racciato 1-13, Derek Neid 1-(minius-4), Scott Beltz 1-26.
INTS – Pen Argyl, Oyer, DePaolo, Matt Gifilen, Zak Ruppert.
MISSED FGS – Wyoming Area, 27 WR.
SACKS – Wyoming Area, Jeff Skursky.
OFFICIATING CREW – District 1.