KINGSTON — Wyoming Valley West coach Pat Keating said sophomore wide receiver/cornerback Nah-syr Garner is a good student with a great work ethic.
On Friday night he intercepted three passes and caught a 10-yard touchdown pass to lead the Spartans to a less-than-spectacular 37-21 victory over a scrappy Crestwood team before a good crowd at Spartan Stadium.
“When a few of our guys went out with injuries, we got really motivated to get the job done,” Garner, 14, said. “It’s emotional when we lose players to injury, but we’re a family and we stick together.”
Nate Baranski, Valley West’s standout on offense and defense appeared to suffer a serious injury and was taken to the hospital for treatment. A few other Spartans also went down, putting some pressure on Keating’s team that features several younger players.
“I talked to the team and the coaches and we told them tonight wasn’t a great effort,” Keating said. “We will need to work hard this week to get ready. We have a really good football team coming to town next week.”
The Spartans, 3-0 on the season, will face another unbeaten team, the rival Berwick Bulldogs, Friday night at Spartan Stadium.
Crestwood got on the board first after the Comets recovered a Spartan fumble on the opening drive. Senior quarterback Chase Passman — maybe the best name for a QB — connected with junior Brandon Nieminski for a touchdown and a 6-0 lead. The PAT was no good.
Valley West fumbled again on the ensuing possession, but Garner picked off his first of the three interceptions to set up a first and goal at the Comets 4-yard line.
After a 2-yard loss, senior workhorse Carson Canavan bulled six yards for the TD. Adam Sivak’s PAT was good and the Spartans grabbed a 7-6 lead with 7:38 left in the first quarter.
Baranski was injured on the play and had to be helped off the field as the entire Spartan team watched. There was no word immediately available after the game on his condition.
The Spartans struck again when Crestwood fumbled the kickoff. Canavan ran 16 yards for the score and Sivak added the extra point for a 14-6 Spartans lead.
Several times Crestwood had the ball deep in Spartan territory, but the WVW defense rose to the occasion time and again. Garner got his second interception when he intercepted a ball in the end zone with 43 seconds left in the opening quarter.
The second quarter saw the Spartan running game grinding out yardage as the clock kept ticking toward halftime. WVW took a 21-6 lead with 5:01 left in the quarter when senior QB Jake Shusta found senior Jayden Watkins in the end zone for a 28-yard TD.
Crestwood junior Garrett Swank peeled off a long return on the kickoff to the WVW 37. The Comets again moved the ball, but it was Garner again stopping the drive with his third interception at the 10, running back to midfield.
From there, Canavan continued his ground attack. On a third down and 23 at the Comet 48, Shusta hit Garner for 37 yards to set up a first and 10 at the Crestwood 11. The drive would end with a 21-yard field goal from Sivak, giving the Spartans a 24-6 halftime lead.
Crestwood recovered a WVW fumble that led to a 6-yard TD run by junior Anthony Caporuscio. Passman hit Nieminski for the two-point conversion, bringing the score to 24-14 with 6:30 left in the third quarter.
Valley West would tack on two more scores — a 10-yard pass from Shusta to Garner and a 3-yard run by Canavan. Crestwood sophomore Ryan Petrosky added an 11-yard TD for the Comets, who fell to 1-2 on the season.
Reach Bill O’Boyle at 570-991-6118 or on Twitter @TLBillOBoyle