Williamsport beats Pittston Area in closing seconds

By John Erzar - jerzar@timesleader.com
Pittston Area running back Dylan Lukachko stretches for a first down as the Williamsport defense closes in on him in the first quarter at Charlie Trippi Memorial Stadium. - Fred Adams | For Sunday Dispatch
Pittston Area tight end Anthony Gorey takes a screen pass from quarterback Mike Nocito and goes for a touchdown in the first quarter. - Fred Adams | For Sunday Dispatch
Pittston Area quarterback Mike Nocito gets horse collared By Williamsport defensive back Marcus Simmons as he runs along the sidelines in the second quarter. - Fred Adams | For Sunday Dispatch
Pittston Area wide receiver Andrew Krawczyk (No. 6) takes a pass from quarterback Mike Nocito for yardage in the second quarter against Williamsport. - - Fred Adams | For Sunday Dispatch

YATESVILLE – Williamsport hadn’t stopped Pittston Area’s running game all night, so the Millionaires figured they weren’t going to stop it late in the game.

So they let the Patriots score and took their chances with their offense Friday night.

The strategy worked as quarterback Joe Fagnano led Williamsport down the field with just over a minute to play and then threw an 11-yard TD pass to Marcus Simmons with 7.6 seconds left for a 36-33 victory in a Wyoming Valley Conference interdivisional game.

Williamsport improved to 5-2 while Pittston Area fell to 3-4.

“I’m so proud of the way the kids played,” Pittston Area coach Nick Barbieri said. “That’s great football team, and we’ve been struggling running the ball and we ran it very well. We’ve been struggling defensively, and with the exception of that last drive I thought we played well defensively.”

Pittston Area was ahead 26-22 late in the fourth quarter and gashing the Williamsport defense with running plays — mainly by Dylan Lukachko, who finished with 157 yards — when disaster struck. The Patriots fumbled and Williamsport’s Brock Moyer scooped up the ball and ran 69 yards for a TD and a 29-26 Williamsport lead with 3:06 remaining in regulation.

“We’re going in to ice the game and we turn over the ball and they run it in for a touchdown,” Barbieri said. “And we were running the ball down their throat. All we’ve got to do is run it a few more times and the game is over.”

The Patriots, though, responded with a 55-yard scoring drive where Williamsport allowed quarterback Mike Nocito to score from the 1-yard line for a 33-29 lead. But, more importantly, the Millionaires kept 1:05 on the clock to get a chance to respond.

Fagnano did, leading the Millionaires on a 60-yard, game-winning scoring drive.

Fagnano’s performance included an 11-yard pass to Dallas Griess on a fourth-and-10 to put the ball at the Pittston Area 35-yard line with 30 seconds left. After scrambling for a first down, Fagnano threw 14 yards to Simmons, who got out of bounds at the 11 with 12 seconds left. Fagnano then hit Simmons on a slant in the middle of the end zone for the go-ahead score with 7.6 seconds remaining.

“I had the utmost confidence in Joe,” Williamsport coach Chuck Crews said. “It worked out perfectly under the circumstances. We burned our last timeout when they we’re at the 1-inch line and that put them in a really tough situation. Does he take a knee and think he can get it? Because we were completely dead in the water.

“So we told the defense let him score and we’ll take out chances with the offense.”

Pittston Area’s only hope was a kick return touchdown, but the Millionaires snuffed out a lateral on the play to end the game.

Williamsport played without standout senior running back Treyson Potts, who is out for the season with a left knee injury which will require surgery. The Minnesota-bound Potts, who didn’t make the long trip, missed his entire junior year with a right knee injury.

Nocito hit Tony Gorey with an 18-yard pass to put Pittston Area ahead, 7-0, after one quarter.

Williamsport took a 14-7 halftime lead on two Fagnano touchdown passes to Dallas Griess.

Lukachko scored the next three touchdowns. After his 15-yard touchdown, he scored 1:28 apart from 2 and 54 yards to end the third quarter and start the fourth, giving Pittston Area a 26-14 lead.

Pittston Area running back Dylan Lukachko stretches for a first down as the Williamsport defense closes in on him in the first quarter at Charlie Trippi Memorial Stadium.
https://www.psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/web1_wil_pit1_faa-2.jpgPittston Area running back Dylan Lukachko stretches for a first down as the Williamsport defense closes in on him in the first quarter at Charlie Trippi Memorial Stadium. Fred Adams | For Sunday Dispatch

Pittston Area tight end Anthony Gorey takes a screen pass from quarterback Mike Nocito and goes for a touchdown in the first quarter.
https://www.psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/web1_wil_pit3_faa-2.jpgPittston Area tight end Anthony Gorey takes a screen pass from quarterback Mike Nocito and goes for a touchdown in the first quarter. Fred Adams | For Sunday Dispatch

Pittston Area quarterback Mike Nocito gets horse collared By Williamsport defensive back Marcus Simmons as he runs along the sidelines in the second quarter.
https://www.psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/web1_wil_pit4_faa-2.jpgPittston Area quarterback Mike Nocito gets horse collared By Williamsport defensive back Marcus Simmons as he runs along the sidelines in the second quarter. Fred Adams | For Sunday Dispatch

Pittston Area wide receiver Andrew Krawczyk (No. 6) takes a pass from quarterback Mike Nocito for yardage in the second quarter against Williamsport.
https://www.psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/web1_wil_pit5_faa-2.jpgPittston Area wide receiver Andrew Krawczyk (No. 6) takes a pass from quarterback Mike Nocito for yardage in the second quarter against Williamsport. Fred Adams | For Sunday Dispatch

By John Erzar

jerzar@timesleader.com

BY THE NUMBERS

Pittston Area had statistical advantages of 23-13 in first downs, 233-138 in rushing yards and 430-346 in total offense. … Nocito was 12-for-19 for 197 yards passing. Fagnano went 19-for-30 for 208 yards passing for Williamsport. Simmons caught eight of those passes for 80 yards. … Jordan O’Boyle added 50 yards on 11 carries for Pittston Area.

Reach the Sunday Dispatch newsroom at 570-655-1418 or by email at sd@psdispatch.com.

Reach the Sunday Dispatch newsroom at 570-655-1418 or by email at sd@psdispatch.com.