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.
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