THROOP – He rolled out to his right, scrambled for about three seconds and didn't see his receiver's route open.
Instead, Nick O'Brien looked down the field about 40 yards and saw teammate Cody Schmitz jumping up and down -- a Mid-Valley defender not within 20 yards.
Fifty-six yards and one amazing catch later, Wyoming Area was out and rolling.
O'Brien put on a show in Lackawanna County, running for two touchdowns, passing for another and picking off a pass late in the fourth quarter as the Warriors snuck past the Spartans, 28-12.
Not too bad, considering the Warrior senior quarterback was nursing a minor injury in the first half.
"Just minor," he said. "I knew that I had to get back into the game."
Unfortunately for Mid-Valley, he did. Two plays show O'Brien's heart.
On the third-down pass play, he avoided two defenders, and had the presence of mind to find Schmitz, who snuck behind the Spartan secondary and was seemingly forgotten about. That score gave Wyoming Area a 21-12 lead in the third quarter.
"It wasn't designed that way. It was supposed to be a quick pass, but the pocket broke down," he said. "I just saw him jumping and waving his hands. I threw it as far as I could, and he made a big play. That was huge. We were kind of at a stalemate scoring, so it was so big to get a huge play like that. Plus, it was third down. That was the changing point of the game."
O'Brien's second touchdown run was a picture of beauty – breaking the line of scrimmage, spinning out of a tackle, side-stepping another defender and scampering down the right sideline for the 55-yard score.
In all, the senior ran for 129 yards on 13 carries and threw for another 64.
"It all starts up front, and the line did a great job," the quarterback said. "Last week, we had a tough game, and it was physical. This week, we physically beat Mid-Valley up front. Our line does a great job each week. Our playmakers are just going to make plays because of our line and our coaching. That's what we feed off of."
It could have been one of those days for the Warriors.
The first time Wyoming Area touched the ball, O'Brien returned a punt almost 70 yards for a touchdown, only to see it erased because of a holding call.
The Warriors fumbled the ball seven times, losing three of them, and Mid-Valley grabbed a lot of momentum when Matthew Tanner just barely reached the end zone on a fourth-and-goal from the 9, cutting the lead to 14-12 in the third quarter.
But two spectacular plays and a strong defensive presence was too much for Mid-Valley to rally back from.
"Nick wanted to get his motor running after last week's game," Wyoming Area head coach Randy Spencer said. "He kept grinding at it, but he's a tough kid. His leadership really showed. He challenged our football team in the fourth quarter, and everyone responded."
Wyoming Area (1-1) built a 14-0 lead on Schmitz's 76-yard punt return in the opening quarter, and the first of O'Brien's TD scores. But Mid-Valley trimmed the lead to 14-6 at halftime when Tanner found a streaking Ron Tomasetti down the middle of the field.
The Spartans had the game to within two, 14-12, with five minutes left in the third, and were later stopped by the Wyoming Area defense inside the red zone in the final 12 minutes.
"Mid-Valley has some outstanding athletes," Spencer said. "They have big-play potential, and are never out of a football game. But we have a senior team, and playmakers in spots that allow us to do some things. I'm proud of the way we stepped up. Matt Tanner is a dynamic kid in his own right, and they have some good receivers."
WA -- Cody Schmitz 76 punt return (A.J. Lenkaitis kick), 7:42
WA -- Nick O'Brien 3 run (Lenkaitis kick), 5:12
MV -- Ron Tomasetti 34 pass from Matthew Tanner (run failed), 2:41
MV -- Tanner 9 run (pass failed), 5: 49
WA – Schmitz 56 pass from O'Brien (Lenkaitis kick), 1:50
WA -- O'Brien 55 run (Lenkaitis kick), 4:04
|Team Statistics||Wyo Area||Mid Valley|
RUSHING – WA, Nick O'Brien 13-129, Jeff Skorsky 5-27, Zack Lanunziata 7-7, Cody Schmitz 2-7, Marty Michaels 2-5, Robert Wargo 1-(-1), Jordan Zezza 1-(-2). MV, Matthew Tanner 14-35, Tyler Collins 13-19, Cory Tomasetti 2-18, Martin Walsh 2-11, Tom Davis 2-11.
PASSING – WA, O'Brien 2-6-0-64; Zezza 1-3-0-37; Kyle Borton 0-1-0-0. MV, Tanner 8-14-2-69; Walsh 5-9-1-40.
RECEIVING – WA, Schmitz 2-64, Lanunziata 1-37. MV, Ron Tomasetti 5-55, Chris Rebar 3-15, Tyler Fiume 2-25, Collins 2-11, Davis 1-3.
INTS – WA, Lanunziata, Zezza, O'Brien.