Williams Valley scores 20 in last five minutes for District XI title
By Rob Wheary, Staff Writer • firstname.lastname@example.org
PINE GROVE – The 2016 District XI Class A title game will be one that many will remember for a long time to come.
Those that left the game early missed an incredible effort by the Williams Valley Vikings, erasing a 17-point deficit in the final five minutes to win the championship with a 34-31 win over Marian at Cardinal Stadium, Pine Grove.
“It’s very important to me that every class has a district gold medal, and this is the fourth year for the senior class, so we wanted to get this one for them,” Williams Valley coach Tim Savage said. “The kids answered the call tonight. These kids have a drive that I don’t see in a lot of teams.
With Marian’s Ethan Kuczynski scoring on a 66-yard touchdown run to make the score 31-14 with seven minutes to play and Williams Valley being intercepted by the Marian defense, hope was slipping away from the Vikings.
That was the point where Williams Valley’s defense stepped up, forcing the fumble deep in Marian territory that lit the fuse for their comeback.
Starting their drive from the Marian 28, Williams Valley looked to Levi Engle to get the passing game going. On the second play of the drive, Engle found Allan Hand for a 27-yard reception, taking them down to the Marian 1. The next play it was time for the team’s workhorse, Dylan Rabuck, to punch it in from one yard out. After missing the two-point conversion, the Colts still led 31-20 with 4:16 left to play.
After trying the onside kick, Marian took possession at the Williams Valley 49. On 3rd and 10 from the same spot, the ball came loose from Marian’s hands and Dylan Rabuck picked it up, broke free from the Marian defenders and raced down the field for the touchdown. On the two-point conversion, Jake Wolfgang made the catch before landing back first on the defender’s helmet, forcing him out of the game with a lower body injury. His sacrifice put the two points on the board and Williams Valley pulled within 3 points at 31-28 with three minutes to play.
Once again, Williams Valley’s defense stepped up forcing Marian to go three and out and punt the ball back. With 2:10 showing on the clock, Williams Valley had the ball on the Marian 31 and knocking on the door. At this point Marian stepped up its defense, putting the Vikings at fourth-and-11 at the Marian 32.
Again, a big reception was key and Engle found Allan Hand on the out pattern for a 24-yard gain, putting Williams Valley at the Marian 8. The next play saw Dylan Rabuck come up with seven of that eight yards and Engle diving in from the one to take the lead for good, 34-31.
Marian got the ball back with 37 seconds left but only got to midfield before time expired and the celebration was underway for Williams Valley.
“I really thought when it was 20-6 that I had made a deal with the devil to bring that game back to us and then Dylan comes up with with the big run and just took over,” Savage said. “He’s making a case to be the best player in Williams Valley history.”
Marian started the scoring with seven minutes left in the first half when Colt quarterback Ethan Kuczynski found Anthony Collevechio for the 44-yard touchdown pass to put Marian up 7-0. Williams Valley answered right back with Dylan Rabuck scoring on the third play of the ensuing drive, running through a Marian defender for a 65-yard score. Williams Valley missed the two-point conversion, and Marian held a one-point lead.
The Colts made it 14-6 late in the second after taking advantage of a Williams Valley mistake when Jake Wolfgang mishandled a punt and Marian recovered it on the Williams Valley 1. Seth Paluck ran it in on the next play, putting Marian up 14-6 at the half.
Special teams were trouble for the Vikings all game. After getting the ball to start the second half, penalties pushed the ball back to the Williams Valley 16 before the Vikings were faced with a fourth-and-12 at the Williams Valley 28. The punt was blocked and Marian took over on the Viking 17. Nick Erbe ran it into the endzone on the first play from scrimmage, putting Marian up 21-6.
Dylan Rabuck then took over on the next drive, rushing the ball six times out of the nine plays in it, starting with a 46-yard run that put them in Marian territory and then the final two yards and the two-point conversion that put them within seven points with 4:45 left in the third quarter.
Marian used a field goal and Kuczynski’s 66-yard touchdown run to increase their lead to 31-14 before the Viking comeback.
The win increased Williams Valley’s record to 11-1 and into the PIAA State Class A playoffs. The Vikings will travel to Scranton High School to take on the District II Champion Lackawanna Trail at 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 18. The winner of that game will take on the winner of the Steel-High-Muncy matchup on Nov. 25.
Marian — 0 14 7 10 — 31
Williams Valley — 0 6 8 20 — 34
M — Collevechio 44-yard pass from Kuczynski (Paisley kick)
WV — Dy. Rabuck 65-yard run (pass failed)
M — Paluck 1-yard run (Paisley kick)
M — Erbe 17-yard pass from Kuczynski (Paisley kick)
WV — Dy. Rabuck 2-yard run (Dy. Rabuck run)
M — Paisley 26-yard field goal
M — Kuczynski 65-yard run (Paisley kick)
WV — Dy. Rabuck 1-yard run (pass failed)
WV — Dy. Rabuck 48-yard fumble return (J. Wolfgang pass from Engle)
WV — Engle 1-yard run (pass failed)
FIRST DOWNS: M-9, WV-10
RUSHING: M-37-99, WV-42-233
PASSING: M-8-15-0, WV-3-16-1
PASSING YARDS: M-113, WV-51
TOTAL YARDS: M-212, WV-284
PENALTIES: M-5-49, WV-5-45
RUSHING: Marian — Neary 14-44, Kuczynski 10-35, Paluck 8-14, Adams 2-8, Plesh 1-0, Team 2-(-2). Williams Valley — Dy. Rabuck 31-219, Savage 4-11, Engle 6-1, De. Rebuck 1-2.
PASSING: Marian — Kuczynski 8-15-0, 113 yards. Williams Valley — Engle 3-16-1, 51 yards, Team 0-1-0 0.
RECEIVING: Marian — Collevechio 3-60, Adams 2-23, Erbe 1-17, Plesh 1-10, Neary 2-3. Williams Valley — Hand 2-51, Savage 1-0.
INTERCEPTIONS: Marian — Paluck.