NANTICOKE — Pittston Area and Nanticoke Area went toe-to-toe on Friday night matching each other evenly for the most part. Except in the turnover and points off turnover categories.
The Trojans committed the only four turnovers of the game with the last one costing them a possible victory.
Down by a touchdown and driving in the red zone with less than a minute remaining, a bad snap sailed past Nanticoke quarterback Colby Buczynski. The Patriots recovered the miscue to seal the 28-21 victory.
“We were fortunate with the turnovers they made. That snap at the end of the game, that doesn’t happen very often,” Patriots coach Nick Barbieri said.
The first two turnovers resulted in PA scoring drives and the last two cost the Trojans the win.
After Nanticoke opened a 7-0 lead in the first on its season-opening drive going 53 yards, the Patriots recovered a fumble then got on the board on the first play of the second quarter on the first of four combined touchdowns by quarterback Mike Nocito. He hit Bryan Giambra for a 19-yard TD strike to open the second quarter for the first of three times the duo connected for a score.
On the very next play from scrimmage, Nanticoke’s Joe Ammons, a 6-foot-1, 215-pound running back went 85 yards on the ground as Nanticoke opened a 14-6 lead.
The Patriots answered with two more TDs before the end of the half. Nocito capped a 10-play 62-yard drive with a 1-yard TD plunge tying the score at 14-14. On the final drive of the first half, Nocito drove his team to 61-yard scoring drive ending with a 7-yard pass to Giambra as time expired and the Patriots took the lead for the first time at 20-14. Nocito, a junior getting his first start, dazzled completing 10 of 17 passes for 157 yards, while Giambra hauled in seven receptions for 116 yards.
“Very pleased with him. I thought he delivered the ball well,” Barbieri said about his signal caller. “Giambra is a great receiver. (Andrew) Krawczyk is another great receiver. So we have weapons. We just gotta make sure we get them the ball.”
In the third quarter, Butcynski helped put Nanticoke back on top 21-20 with a 30-yard TD pass to Dylan Szchowski capping a 60-yard drive.
But then the Nanticoke mistakes took toll. A Trojans punt was blocked by Tony Gorey to start the fourth quarter. Six plays later, the Patriots went up 28-21 on the third TD hookup between Nocito and Giambra.
“We work hard on special teams and that blocked punt really set us up for that drive to get us in the lead,” Barbieri said. “
With under 4 minutes to go, the Trojans were driving inside the 10 when the ball was coughed up and bounced into the end zone before being recovered by Pittston Area.
Joe Ammons, Naticoke’s 6-foot-1, 215-pound senior running back ran through the Patriots defense all night scorching the unit for 138 yards on 23 carries and an 85-yard touchdown run.
“Defensively, I wasn’t very pleased with our effort. Especially against Ammons, who I think is a phenomenal back,” Barbieri added. “That kid could run all night if he didn’t get tired.”
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