WEST PITTSTON — Freshman receiver Brian Williams scored two touchdowns on special teams as the Wyoming Area Warriors shut out the Wallenpaupack Buckhorns, 32-0, on a hot, muggy Friday night.
Early on, Wallenpaupack’s inexperience showed. After the two teams traded field position to start the game, Wyoming Area was faced with a fourth down and three from the Buckhorns’ 11. An encroachment penalty gave the Warriors the first down, and two plays later Donovan O’Boyle powered into the end zone from one yard out. A missed PAT gave the Warriors a 6-0 lead.
After a Buckhorns three and out, the Warriors got back on the board quickly when Williams returned the ensuing punt 65 yards for a score. A failed two-point conversion put the Warriors up 12-0.
In the second quarter, the ball took a Wallenpaupack bounce on a punt, and the Buckhorns were able to pin the Warriors at their own one-yard line. But, Wyoming Area showed its poise, going on a nine-play, 99-yard drive, highlighted by Marc Minichello’s 57-yard catch and run from PJ Angeli. After breaking a tackle, Minichello picked up his blockers and found the end zone. A PAT later, and the Warriors lead extended to 19.
“It was man coverage, so I knew I had to beat him outside. PJ gave me a great ball, and then Steve made a great block downfield,” Minichello said.
Angeli finished the first half completing two of his three passes for 71 yards and a touchdown.
The next score happened much quicker. After a stagnant three plays by the Buckhorns offense, Williams had his number called again, blocking a punt and returning it 26 yards for his second score of the game to go up 26-0 at the half.
“That was just luck,” Williams joked about being in the right place at the right time in his first varsity game.
Wyoming Area’s defense proved stout throughout the matchup. In the first half, the Warriors kept the Buckhorns from completing a pass or getting a first down, netting only 26 yards of total offense.
“We’ve been working so hard this offseason, it was great to enjoy this shutout as a team,” said Minichello.
Both teams traded field position for most of the second half as the Warriors backup QB Steve Hozma saw the field for the first time this season. Brian Miles found the end zone with just over four minutes to go in the game, a play that was set up by a 67-yard touchdown pass on a flanker screen from Hozma to Minichello.
A pancake block by o-lineman Justin Smith that sprung the junior’s long run, who finished with four catches for 149 yards and a score.
“I looked inside to see if anyone was coming, and when I looked back, the corner was just gone. I had to thank Justin for the block after that. Such a good block,” said Miles.
A third missed PAT gave the Warriors a 32-0 lead.
Wallenpaupack’s next drive found them deep into Warriors territory, but a missed field goal kept them off the scoreboard and preserved the shutout for Wyoming Area.
Next week, the Warriors remain home to play the Crestwood Comets (1-0) in a WVC showdown.
Wallenpaupack returns home next week to face West Scranton (0-1).