WVC football: Valley West’s comeback against Wallenpaupack falls short

By DJ Eberle - [email protected]
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KINGSTON — The final minute and change would paint Wyoming Valley West’s entire night against Wallenpaupack.

The Spartans made plays. Just not enough to beat Wallenpaupack.

Wyoming Valley West even set itself up to win the game with a Hail Mary with seven seconds to go, but Spartans quarterback Jake Shusta was sacked as time expired. Wyoming Valley West fell just short, losing to the Buckhorns 34-28.

“I just think we didn’t make enough plays when we needed to during the course of the game,” Wyoming Valley West head coach Pat Keating said. “We put ourselves in that situation. We just — I know some guys struggled out there tonight. We have a lot of guys playing different positions that they’ve never played in before because of injuries. We’re moving a lot of guys around right now.

“We really have to try to get healthy and try to get guys back to playing where they’re comfortable and that’s out of all of our control. That’s all we can do right now.”

The Spartans (3-3) were looking for their third straight fourth-down stop.

There was a little over a minute remaining in regulation and the Buckhorns (3-3) faced a fourth-and-3 from the Spartans’ 23.

For the fourth straight time Wallenpaupack senior running back Nicholas Ruggieri took the handoff. After getting stopped for gains of 1, 1 and 5 yards on his three previous touches, Ruggieri broke through the Wyoming Valley West defense for the score. He put the Buckhorns up 34-21 with 59 seconds remaining in regulation after the extra point was blocked.

But despite trailing by 13 points with less than a minute to go and coming off of back-to-back offensive possessions without a first down, the Spartans didn’t quit.

Facing a third-and-10 from the Wallenpaupack 30, and coming off back-to-back incompletions, Shusta regained his composure. The senior bought time in the pocket and threw a touchdown strike to Dylan Nastanski. It was the junior receiver’s fifth, and most important, catch of the night, capping off a seven-play, 59-yard drive.

Then the Spartans recovered an onside kick — after an offsides penalty against Wyoming Valley West caused a re-kick.

Seven seconds left and Shusta and the Spartans had at least one try at the end zone from their own 49-yard-line. But the senior quarterback wouldn’t even get a chance to throw the ball.

Wallenpaupack ate up the Wyoming Valley West offensive line and before Shusta knew it, he had a swarm of Buckhorns in his face and he was on the ground.

“I think we had a couple opportunities there. We just didn’t capitalize on them,” Keating said. “Defensively, when we needed to make a play most of the night we didn’t until the very end. Offensively, there, we started out well in the second half, but we sputtered out in the second half and then caught fire at the end of the game, but it was just too late. We just have to be more consistent.”

Even though the Spartans dropped their third straight game of the season, Keating still relayed a positive message to his players after the game.

If they can run the table, they still have a shot at playing come Week 11.

“We knew it was important and it could have a lot of ramifications as far as down the stretch,” Keating said of the matchup. “I said, ‘We can still end up playing here Week 11. We just have to stay positive, get back on track and take care of business down the stretch. That’s all we can do.”

Wallenpaupack 34, Wyoming Valley West 28

Wallenpaupack`7`7`14`6 — 34

Wyo. Valley West`7`7`7`7 — 28

First quarter

WAL — Adam Haupt 21 pass from Tom McCormick (Connor Barnes kick), 8:04

WVW — Jake Shusta 1 run (Adam Sivak kick), 3:38

Second quarter

WVW — Carson Canavan 20 run (Sivak kick), 9:32

WAL — Nicholas Ruggieri 8 run (Barnes kick), 0:34

Third quarter

WAL — Anthony Dalessio 30 pass from McCormick (Barnes wide left), 7:46

WVW — Carson 2 run (Sivak kick), 3:49

WAL — Haupt 19 pass from McCormick (McCormick run), 1:32

Fourth quarter

WAL — Ruggieri 23 run (kick blocked), 1:02

WVW — Dylan Nastanski 30 pass from Shusta (Sivak kick), 0:09

Team statistics`WAL`WVW

First downs`11`13

Rushes-yards`34-142`28-140

Passing yards`133`123

Total yards`275`263

Passing`6-17-1`14-29-0

Sacked-yards lost`0-0`1-15

Punts-avg.`2-31`3-26

Fumbles-lost`0-0`0-0

Penalties-yards`5-60`11-80

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING — WAL, Nicholas Ruggieri 27-135, Exzavier Warner 4-3, Manny Obeng 2-2, Tom McCormick 1-2. WVW, Carson Canavan 14-100, Luis Rivera 3-29, Nah-Syr Garner 3-17, Darius Redguad 2-0, Jayden Watkins 1-(minus-2), Jake Shusta 4-(minus-4).

PASSING — WAL, McCormick 6-17-1-133. WVW, Shusta 14-29-0-123.

RECEIVING — WAL, Erik Smith Jr. 2-52, Adam Haupt 2-40, Anthony Dalessio 1-30, Warner 1-11. WVW, Dylan Nastanski 5-79, Garner 26, Canavan 1-7, Jerimiah Williams 1-7, Harunah Jallow 1-4.

INTERCEPTIONS — WAL, None. WVW, Garner 1-19.

MISSED FGs — None.

https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/web1_football_photo_hash-e1472047880194.jpg

By DJ Eberle

[email protected]

Reach DJ Eberle at 570-991-6398 or on Twitter @ByDJEberle

Reach DJ Eberle at 570-991-6398 or on Twitter @ByDJEberle