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 by going 53 yards on its season-opening drive, the Patriots recovered a fumble, then got on the board on the first play of the second quarter.
The touchdown was first of four accounted 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 next play from scrimmage, Nanticoke’s Joe Ammons, a 6-foot-1, 215-pound running back, went 85 yards to give the Trojans a 14-6 lead.
The Patriots answered with two more TDs before the end of the half to take a 20-14 lead.
Nocito capped a 10-play 62-yard drive with a 1-yard TD plunge tying the score, 14-14. On the final drive of the first half, Nocito moved his team 61 yards, ending with a 7-yard pass to Giambra as time expired and the Patriots took their first lead, 20-14.
Giambra finished with seven catches for 116 yards. Nocito, a junior getting his first start, completing 10 of 17 passes for 157 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 their 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, again covering 7 yards.
“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 four 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.
NUMBERS GAME: Ammons led Nanticoke’s offense, running for 138 yards on 23 carries. … Dylan Lukachko led Pittston Area’s ground game with 88 yards on 21 carries. … Nanticoke lead in first downs (18-13), rushing yards (242-98) and total offense (339-255).
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