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‚??No words to describe it‚??

February 19. 2013 5:53PM
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Eight + seven + 3 = 2.

Wyoming Area handyman Nick O'Brien wore number 8 in the first half, number 7 in the second, scored three touchdowns and the Warriors won the District 2 2A championship over Lakeland 20-7 on Friday night in West Pittston.

O'Brien had 135 yards rushing and completed some key passes, but he had plenty of help from his teammates, including senior tailback Cody Schmitz.

Schmitz was something of an unknown commodity when the season began, but as the weeks wore on his impact grew. On Friday he made several key plays in the game, on each side of the ball and special teams. On the first possession he returned the opening kickoff 43 yards to the Lakeland 37, and then caught a 26-yard pass to set up a 15-yard touchdown run by O'Brien.

In the second quarter, with the Warriors clinging to a 12-7 lead and Lakeland on the march at the WA 20, Schmitz made a leaping interception in the end zone on a 3rd-and-1.

Lakeland had driven from the Warrior 23 on eight running plays after recovering a fumble, but tried to pull off the touchdown pass with a fake into the line, figuring to come back and get the one yard on fourth if it went incomplete.

Though the play looked open for a second, Schmitz wasn't fooled. I knew it was a play fake, Schmitz said. The tight end slipped out. I glanced in the backfield and saw the quarterback look. I made up ground and made the play.

After the Warriors first touchdown, Lakeland drove 41 yards on nine running plays moving the pile four to six yards at a time. On a 3rd-and-5 from the Warrior 29, Lakeland quarterback Kyle Kiehart hit running back Chris Roche on a 29-yard touchdown pass. The kick made it 7-6 Lakeland at 5:31 in the second.

The way Lakeland moved the ball on that drive, didn't portend that they wouldn't score again, but the Warrior defense adjusted and shut them out the rest of the way.

Alex Gercak, Trent Grove, Joe Taylor, Carl Zielinski, Joe Erzar, Marty Michaels, Jeff Skursky, Jordan Zezza and the rest of the defense yielded yards at times – Roche rushed for 126 on 28 carries – but didn't give up any big plays on the ground and made stops at key times. From his safety position O'Brien made a tackle on a 3rd-and-long draw play, stopping the Chiefs 2-yards short and forcing a punt.

The Warriors second touchdown was a 21-yard run by O'Brien after a short Lakeland punt, which was a recurring theme. The Chiefs gave up field position on kicks rather than risk kicking to O'Brien or Schmitz.

In the Warriors last touchdown drive Schmitz picked up first downs on a run and catch, but a handoff he made was the biggest play of the drive.

On a 2nd-and-15 from the Lakeland 24 following a penalty, O'Brien handed to Schmitz coming off the right wing, who then handed the ball to LaNunziata on a reverse and he ran for 13 yards to the 11, setting up a 7-yard touchdown run by O'Brien a play later.

With the exception of the end zone interception, the Chiefs were mistake free, until they lost a fumble at the Warrior 24 on their opening possession of the second half. LaNunziata made the recovery.

But when Lakeland fell behind by two scores late in the fourth, they were out of their game having to pass on almost every down and the mistakes snowballed. They were flagged for a false start, holding and a personal foul on their last two possessions. Though the Warriors didn't get any sacks, they did force Kiehart to scramble and throw ineffectively on the run. He completed some passes underneath coverage, but LaNunziata and Dylan Pegg made big stops on the receivers. Kiehart was 6-16 passing.

The Warriors could have made it a little easier on themselves, but eight penalties and three turnovers in Lakeland territory held them back.

The district championship is Wyoming Area's first sine 2003. It's been too long, Schmitz said. To win it here in front of our fans who supported us it's an awesome feeling. There's no words to describe it.

The Warriors, 10-2 and on an eight-game win streak, advance to the state tournament to play next weekend against the District 11 champions, the winner of the Catasauqua – Penn Argyl game which was played Saturday night. The game will be at a District 11 site.

Individual Statistics

RUSHING – Lakeland, Roche 28-126, Tyler Brady 4-15, Kiehart 2-20. Wyoming Area, O'Brien 25-135, Cody Schmitz 6-32, Zak LaNunziata 6-38, Jeff Skursky 1-5.

PASSING – Lakeland, Kiehart 6-16-1-55. Wyoming Area, O'Brien 4-6-1-74.

RECEIVING – Lakeland, Roche 3-44, Cody Defino 1-7, Joey Natale 1-4. Wyoming Area, Schmitz 2-46, Jordan Zezza 2-28.


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