SLATINGTON ‚?? Wyoming Area‚??s offense mounted a second-half comeback, but Mike DePaolo never stopped churning out the yards ‚?? and touchdowns ‚?? for Pen Argyl.
DePaolo carried 33 times for 216 yards and three touchdowns Saturday afternoon as the Green Knights knocked the Warriors out of the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association Class AA football semifinals with a 21-7 victory at Northern Lehigh High School.
The bruising 6-foot-3, 210-pound tailback in the ball-control, single-wing offense provided the game-breaking score on a 37-yard touchdown run with 5:09 remaining. It was the fourth time in the game that he converted a third-down situation and the second time that he turned it into a touchdown.
When Wyoming Area threatened one last time, it was DePaolo who intercepted at the 1 and ran it out to the 7 with 1:52 left.
Pen Argyl (11-2) advances to the state quarterfinals to face Imhotep Charter.
Wyoming Area, the District 2 champion, finished 10-3.
Pen Argyl put Wyoming Area in its first two-touchdown hole when Matt Gilfilen intercepted a pass on the third play of the second half and the Green Knights followed it up with a 10-play, 53-yard touchdown drive.
DePaolo who proved tough to bring down throughout the game, used second effort to cover the final yard. His touchdown came one play after a Nick Oyer-to-Scott Beltz, 26-yard gain on a flea flicker and allowed Pen Argyl to take a 14-0 lead with 6:38 left in the third quarter.
The Warriors turned to Nick O‚??Brien to mount a comeback.
The senior quarterback carried all five plays on a 58-yard touchdown drive. O‚??Brien started the drive with a 19-yard run, then finished it by carrying a fourth-and-two trap 31 yards for the touchdown.
A.J. Lenkaitis kicked the extra point with 4:12 left in the third quarter to cut the deficit to 14-7.
O‚??Brien finished with 128 yards on 19 carries. He picked up 83 of those rushing yards in the third quarter.
Following the Wyoming Area touchdown, the Warriors drove Pen Argyl back three yards and O‚??Brien returned a punt 31 yards to the Green Knights 23.
O‚??Brien had consecutive runs of 8, 10 and 7 yards to get out of a second-and-15 situation and allow the Warriors to start the fourth quarter at the Green Knights 3.
But, Nick Oyer broke in to stop O‚??Brien for a six-yard loss on second down and a 27-yard field goal attempt was wide right with 11 minutes left.
After DePaolo‚??s last touchdown, Pen Argyl came up with two interceptions inside the 5 yard line, giving it four total off O‚??Brien in the game.
Wyoming Area had three scoring opportunities get away in the first half, allowing Pen Argyl to emerge with a 7-0 lead.
The Warriors went 0-for-6 passing in the first half, with two potential big gainers going off the hands of receivers. O‚??Brien found Trent Grove behind the defense on the first possession but Grove could not hold on.
Another O‚??Brien attempt, on a fake field goal on the first play of the second quarter, went off Zak Lanunziata‚??s hands in the corner of the end zone.
O‚??Brien had an apparent 24-yard touchdown run called back because of a holding penalty with 2:42 left in the half.
Pen Argyl had the game‚??s first threat when Mike Racciato broke a 51-yard run only to be chased down from behind by O‚??Brien at the 13. The Warriors held the Green Knights there on downs with 4:04 left in the first quarter.
Zak Ruppert got the ball back for Pen Argyl on an interception.
DePaolo broke tackles while making his way around the right side for a 48-yard touchdown with 1:48 left in the first quarter.