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Williamsport beats Wyoming Valley West easily at home 40-7

RALPH WILSON/Sun-Gazette Correspondent Williamsport's Lajear Whaley (23) scores during their game against Wyoming Valley West on Friday at Williamsport.

Williamsport’s 40-7 win over the Wyoming Valley West Spartans Friday night not only snapped a three-game losing streak, it helped the Millionaires pull into a tie for second place in their District 2-4-6 Class 6A playoff chase.

There was little suspense along the way for the Millionaires, as George Whaley threw long touchdown passes to Jamaire Harden, Yazhir Slaughter, and Sebastian Robinson. Lajear Whaley, Nasir Hennigan, and Santino White added rushing touchdowns for Williamsport, which scored on its first four possessions and gained first downs on seven of its first nine plays.

But there was a feeling of improvement heading into the last two games of the regular season as Harden, Hennigan, and center Dade Splain returned to a lineup battling injuries all season.

“We had a good week in practice and that led to the game,” said George Whaley, who completed 5 of 8 passes for 214 yards in another game in place of Frankie Morrone. “We started the first half strong and finished the game better.”

According to standings updated on District 6’s web site after Friday’s games, Williamsport pulled into a tie for second place with State College, which dropped to 4-4 with a 21-14 loss to Carlisle Friday. First-place Altoona (4-4) also lost, 52-48 to Central Dauphin.

RALPH WILSON/Sun-Gazette Correspondent Williamsport's Lajear Whaley (23) picks up yardage during their game against Wyoming Valley West on Friday at Williamsport.

The Millionaires and State College have 460 ranking points, while Altoona has 490. Williamsport closes the season at Wilkes-Barre Area next week and at home vs. Hazleton on Oct. 29. Next week, Altoona plays Central Dauphin and State College has Harrisburg before they meet each other in two weeks. The top two teams play for this title in three weeks.

The schedule could help the Millionaires if they can win out, but only if they continue to work past what’s been a difficult few weeks. They won Friday night without coach Chuck Crews, who was ejected last week in a loss to Delaware Valley. Assistant Kevin Brown led the team Friday.

“It was nice to see, with all the adversity we went through this week, that we were locked in,” said Brown. “We could have fallen apart easily but we didn’t. We’ll see in a couple weeks.”

While the offense made its share of big plays, averaging 12.6 yards per play on just 36 plays in a 2-1 possession time deficit, Williamsport’s defense demonstrated equal strength. The Millionaires held Valley West to 2.5 yards per play, and first-quarter sacks from Charles Crews III, Lajear Whaley, and Alonzo Rice prevented any momentum.

Valley West punted on its first three drives before its fourth crossed midfield and ended on downs. Behind 27-0, the Spartans finally broke through on Jayden Swainbank’s second 24-yard breakaway. That set up his scoring plunge of 2 yards, but Williamsport answered before the half when George Whaley’s 67-yard touchdown to Sebastian Robinson gave the Millionaires a 33-7 halftime lead.

RALPH WILSON/Sun-Gazette Correspondent Williamsport's Lajear Whaley (23) picks up yardage during their game against Wyoming Valley West on Friday at Williamsport.

Whaley said he turned to Robinson deep after seeing double coverage on Harden. His touchdown to Harden to open the game came on a bubble screen, with most yards after the catch. His touchdown to Slaughter covered 83 yards, and Slaughter bobbled the ball on his shoulder pads before pulling it in and breaking away for the last 40 yards.

“I thought he dropped it,” said Whaley, who was hit on the throw and didn’t see the score.

While Lajear Whaley led the Millionaires with 91 yards on 6 carries and Hennigan had a 56 on 8 carries, George Whaley’s 34-yard run on a fake handoff that set up White’s touchdown in the second half was the highlight run of the night.

George Whaley faked a handoff over the middle, one that cleared out the left side of the field as the Spartans bit, but he said he slipped on the pivot as he turned upfield. He still made it to the Valley West 3-yard line on what led to his team’s lone second-half score.

“It was a good effort, but he’s got a lot to learn and is new to the position,” said Brown. “He’s got a high ceiling. For him, it’s a matter of working and trusting us.”

RALPH WILSON/Sun-Gazette Correspondent Williamsport's Lajear Whaley (23) brings down Wyoming Valley West quarterback Luke Buss during a high school football game on Friday at Williamsport.

RALPH WILSON/Sun-Gazette Correspondent Williamsport's quarterback George Whaley (10) runs a keeper during their game against Wyoming Valley West on Friday at Williamsport.

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