SCRANTON – West Scranton stopped Pittston Area on five fourth-down situations inside the Invaders’ 25 Friday night and grabbed a 41-14 victory.
Kevin Williams and Nick Gioia made sure West Scranton did not let such opportunities get away.
Each accounted for three touchdowns in the non-league game between likely District 2 Class 4A playoff teams, who are fighting for a possible quarterfinal home-field advantage. Each ends the game with a 3-3 record, but West Scranton used the win to pass Pittston Area into fifth place in the 13-way ratings race for eight playoff berths and four home-field spots.
Williams ran for 225 yards. His 4-, 2- and 34-yard touchdowns in the first 16:17 of the second half broke open a 21-14 game.
With Gioia starting fast, the Invaders never trailed. Gioia hit his first four passes for 146 yards and two touchdowns in the first 10 minutes, then added a 9-yard touchdown run in the second quarter.
Mike Coe’s 6-yard touchdown pass from Nocito lifted Pittston Area into a 7-7 tie in the first quarter.
Dylan Lukachko’s 20-yard run with 51 seconds left in the second quarter brought the Patriots within seven points at the break.
Pittston Area 25
Pittston Area returned to the field for the second half Sept. 23 and unveiled another weapon for its offense.
Jordan O’Boyle, who had been playing a few series at tailback each week, entered – and altered – the game at that point.
O’Boyle dominated the second half to rally Pittston Area to a victory over Coughlin, then continued his resurgence six nights later when he led the Patriots in carries and yards during Friday’s loss at West Scranton.
The 5-foot-8, 180-pound senior had carried 31 times for just 70 yards through 4 ½ games. In the last 1 ½ games, O’Boyle has run 26 times for 241 yards and scored his first two touchdowns.
With a 3-3 record going into the final four weeks, the Patriots now have an additional offensive option to go along with Mike Nocito’s 784 passing yards, Bryan Giambra’s 23 catches and Dylan Lukachko’s team-high 367 rushing yards.
O’Boyle was one of two offensive changes the Patriots made at halftime, turning a 14-6 deficit into a Wyoming Valley Conference Class 4A Division victory.
Alex Anastasi took over at quarterback, O’Boyle ran most of the plays from the tailback position and the defense improved its effort while the Patriots were outscoring the Crusaders, 19-0, in the second half.
O’Boyle had 161 of his 172 yards rushing in the second half. He sandwiched touchdowns of 23 and 63 yards around Anastasi’s 1-yarder for the go-ahead score.
“Jordan had the hot hand tonight,” Pittston Area coach Nick Barbieri said. “Against Tunkhannock, Dylan had the hot hand.
“The way they were slanting, Jordan is very good at cutting the ball back. He found a few creases and ran the ball very well for us.”
Anastasi, more of a runner than Nocito, helped alter the look of a sputtering offense. The Patriots lost five yards on the ground in the first half, but picked up 179 after that.
“We have two quarterbacks that can play,” Barbieri said. “We’ve been going with Nocito the first four games.
“I just thought we needed a spark. I knew that Alex was a little bit better runner and I thought we could get some things going off our counter game. If he could carry the ball, it might open some things up.”
Anastasi, a transfer in his first year at Pittston Area, was the starting quarterback at Old Forge as a freshman in 2016. He ran seven times for 26 yards and hit two of three passes for 45 yards.
Coughlin changed quarterbacks in the opening series after John DeLucca hit starter Garrett Wardle as he was releasing a pass, knocking him out of the game.
Sophomore Sa’id Hollis took over and ran for 87 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the first half.
The Hollis scores gave Coughlin a halftime lead after Pittston Area opened the scoring with a 61-yard, Nocito-to-Andrew Krawczyk pass on the second play of the second quarter.
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