STROUDSBURG — A jarring hit from an angry Wyoming Valley West defense popped the ball loose, and it seemed to give the Spartans hope for an instant.
Like he did for most of the night, Altaique Mosley-Drew snatched it away.
Mosley-Drew rushed for 149 yards, Phil Stokes bulled for two touchdowns Friday and Stroudsburg stung Valley West 38-15 at Ross-Stulgaitis Stadium.
"We've got the best running back in the district," Stroudsburg quarterback Mike Nikorak said of Mosley-Drew, who gashed Valley West for early runs of 59 and 26 yards.
But the biggest of Mosley-Drew's game-changing plays came when he didn't even have the ball in his hands – at least initially.
Leading 31-15 and faced with a fourth-and-24 just across midfield, Nikorak found his super-smooth star receiver Donovan McDonald with a deep pass over the middle. The Spartans twice had shots to tackle McDonald before he reached the first-down marker, but he broke free both times.
But after the play covered 33 yards, Valley West seemed to have had enough of McDonald's heroics, punching the ball loose and sending it skittering toward the sideline.
As it rolled around on the field of play, a whole quarter remained. If Valley West pounced on the fumble, it wasn't difficult to think the Spartans still had a chance – when two touchdowns and two conversions would have tied the game.
Mosley-Drew would have none of those thoughts.
The speedy tailback came from nowhere to beat a Valley West defender to the ball, keeping it in Stroudsburg's possession. Four plays later, Stokes scored his second touchdown of the night on a two-yard blast, icing victory for 5-1 Stroudsburg.
"He started off pass-blocking for me," Nikorak said of Mosley-Drew, "and somehow got down there. Altaique, he's the quickest guy I know."
It proved the fastest way to kill Valley West's comeback hopes, but then, that play was a perfect example of how the game went for the Spartans all night.
"It was one of those nights where nothing kind of went our way," Valley West coach Pat Keating said. "When we had opportunities for the ball to bounce our way or someone to make a play, it just didn't go our way."
Mosley-Drew made sure most of the big plays went Stroudsburg's way.
His 59-yard dash in the first quarter led to a one-yard touchdown dive by Davon Willis for the first points.
The Spartans tied it when Mike Baur found Alex Barilla with a 50-yard bomb and Alan Sakosky broke off a 23-yard touchdown run on the ensuing play.
But Nikorak hit McDonald with a 70-yard touchdown pass, Mosley-Drew covered half the distance on a 50-yard touchdown drive and McDonald took a direct snap for a 54-yard touchdown run as the Mountaineers rolled up a 28-7 halftime lead.
"Running the ball, we work on it," said Nikorak, who finished with 188 passing yards. "Altaique really getting the defense thinking about the run opened up the passing game for us."
Stroudsburg 38, Wyoming Valley West 15
|Wyoming Valley West||7||0||8||0||—||15|
S – Davon Willis 2 run (Jordan Ellison kick), 7:09
WVW – Alan Sakosky 23 run (Ian Ultsh kick), 2:24
S – Donovan McDonald 70 pass from Mike Nikorak (Ellison kick), 1:26
S – Phil Stokes 3 run (Ellison kick), 9:46
S – McDonald 54 run (Ellison kick), 4:37
S – Ellison 42 FG, 9:11
WVW – Brett Good 26 run (Mike Baur run), 5:40
S – Stokes 2 run (Ellison kick), 11:01
|Team Statistics||Valley West||Stroud|
RUSHING – WVW, Mike Baur 9-42, Brett Good 4-38, Derrick Simms 10-37, Alan Sakosky 2-28, Josh Ortiz 1-12; S, Altaique Mosley-Drew 17-149, Gerald Douglas 14-89, Donovan McDonald 2-59, Phil Stokes 5-10, Davon Willis 2-4, Mike Nokorak 2- (minus 11), TEAM 2- (minus 2).
PASSING – WVW, Baur 10-24-2-120; S, Nikorak 8-11-0-188.
RECEIVING – WVW, Lucky Williams 5-45, Derrick Simms 4-25, Alex Barilla 1-50; S, McDonald 5-148, T.J. Backer 2-20, Justin Pierre 1-20.
INTS – S, Jeremy Carabatio, Phil Stokes.