SLATINGTON — Even if Wyoming Valley West played its best game of the season — something the Spartans didn’t do Saturday afternoon — the task would have remained daunting.
Philadelphia-area power Archbishop Wood had too much speed, too much talent and too big a state football resume for Valley West to overcome.
Led by Virginia Tech recruit Nasir Peoples, Archbishop Wood overwhelmed the Spartans 41-14 in a PIAA Class 5A state quarterfinal game at Northern Lehigh High School.
“They were just really fast,” said Valley West senior quarterback Rob Dwyer, who led the Spartans to two TD drives in the fourth quarter after his team fell into a 41-0 hole. “They flew to the ball, they got to the line of scrimmage fast. Better than any other team we’ve played this year.”
That was understandable. Wood (10-2) came into the game as the defending Class 5A state champion and with four state titles in the last six seasons. Besides Peoples, who finished with 173 yards and two TDs on 16 carries, the Vikings also had Florida recruit Kyle Pitts at tight end and another great athlete at quarterback in Jack Coylar, who verbally committed to play baseball at Duke.
The District 12 champions were so good they were able to overcome having four touchdowns wiped out by penalties — two via run, one on a punt return and another on a fumble return.
“It’s a heck of a team, heck of a program,” said Valley West coach Pat Keating, whose team finished 7-7 and with the District 2 Class 5A title after starting the season 1-5. “They have a lot of team speed. I thought our guys fought. I thought we had chances to have a different scenario on how the game played out.”
Valley West forced a turnover on Wood’s first play from scrimmage as defensive lineman Chris Bleich hit Coylar as he was throwing, resulting in an interception by defensive back Darrian Tyson.
Two plays later, though, the Spartans fumbled away the ball and Wood needed five plays to score as Peoples ran in from 16 yards out.
The Spartans’ next drive stalled at the Wood 21-yard line, and kicker Jake Gurtis had a 38-yard field goal attempt blocked. Peoples broke off a 43-yard run three plays later, and running back Adrian Lambert capped the five-play drive with a 19-yard TD run on the first play of the second quarter.
Another Valley West fumble — this one at the 50-yard line with 47 seconds left until halftime — allowed Wood to build its advantage to 21-0. Coylar connected with Pitts for a 37-yard touchdown with 22 seconds left until the break.
“Offensively, (Valley West) does a lot,” Wood coach Steve Devlin said. “They have a lot of shifts and movements, and they use a lot of heavy packages that you have to account for all their guys.”
Wood did so fairly well in the first two quarters as Valley West had 93 yards of offense and three first downs in the first half. The Vikings cranked it up a notch in the third quarter.
Wood scored on the third play of the third quarter as Peoples snapped arm tackles at the line, then banged into an offensive lineman on the way to a 49-yard TD run. The defense then held Valley West to minus-1 yard in the quarter.
The Spartans didn’t get a first down until 8:55 of the fourth quarter and against Wood’s backups. They avoided a shutout on a 22-yard touchdown run by Dwyer. Dwyer later threw a 47-yard touchdown pass to Jake Blaski with 46 seconds remaining.
Wood will play next weekend against District 1 champion Unionville (14-1) in the semifinals. Unionville defeated Springfield-Delco 35-25 on Friday night.
PIAA Class 5A Quarterfinals
Archbishop Wood 41, Wyo. Valley West 14
Wyo. Valley West`0`0`0`14`—`14
AW — Nasir Peoples 16 run (Bob Hennessey kick), 6:43
AW — Adrian Lambert 19 run (Hennessey kick), 11:52
AW — Kyle Pitts 37 pass from Jack Colyar (Hennessey kick), 0:22
AW — Peoples 49 run (Hennessey kick), 10:43
AW — Lambert 30 run (Hennessey kick), 6:31
AW — Tom Cattolico 1 run (kick blocked), 11:07
WVW — Rob Dwyer 22 run (Jake Gurtis kick), 5:16
WVW — Jake Blaski 47 pass from Dwyer (Gurtis kick), 0:46
RUSHING — WVW, Sean Mikovitch 13-45, Zach Davies 4-4, Dwyer 16-93, Darrian Tyson 4-33, Jake Shusta 1-0. Wood, Peoples 16-173, Chris Blackstone 3-52, Coylar 1-3, Lambert 5-54, Ryan Loughlin 1-6, Tahmir Barksdale 1-18, Colin Murt 2-1, Cattolico 2-3, Ryan DiVerglis 3-6, team 1-(minus-1).
PASSING — WVW, Dwyers 2-10-0-46, Shusta 0-1-0-0. Wood, Coylar 1-3-1-37, Cattolico 1-1-0-8.
RECEIVING — WVW, Jake Blaski 2-46. Woods, Kyle Pitts 1-37, Murt 1-8.
INTERCEPTIONS — WVW, Tyson 1-0.
MISSED FGs — WVW, Gurtis 38 BLK.