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Third-quarter propels Williamsport to win over defending state champion Wyoming Area

Dave Scherbenco/Special to the Sun-Gazette Wyoming Areas Rocco Pizano can't come up with the catch as Williamsports Cameron Sims stays tight Friday.

WEST PITTSTON — Charles Crews’ halftime message was straight to the point.

“I told them champions don’t lay down. You have to lay them down,” the Williamsport head coach said. “They are state champs. You know they aren’t going to lose. You have to beat them.”

Apparently, his Millionaires were paying close attention.

Nasir Hennigan scored on the first play of the second half, and two quick Williamsport defensive touchdowns broke the game wide open as the Millionaires pulled away for a 35-14 victory over Wyoming Area Friday night.

“Any time you can play this way against a caliber team like Wyoming Area, it says something about the staff and the players that you have,” Crews said.

Dave Scherbenco/Special to the Sun-Gazette Wyoming Areas Jacob Willaims gets the pass off as as Williamsport's Riley Bower looks to block Friday in West Pittston.

Four minutes. That’s how quickly the tide turned.

Hennigan — who rushed for a game-high 115 yards — took the draw on the first play of the second half and went 73 yards untouched.

On the next Wyoming Area offensive series, Williamsport jarred the ball away from Warrior quarterback Brian Williams. Nassir Jones, an all-state athlete, scooped up the loose pigskin and went 34 yards to the end zone.

The next possession didn’t get much better for the Warriors as backup quarterback Blaise Tokach-Minnich was hit while throwing the ball. Millionaire Damond Greene picked off the under-thrown pass and jogged 28 yards for Williamsport’s third TD in a four-minute stretch.

Just like that, a 7-0 halftime game ballooned to four scores.

“We had the opportunity to turn the momentum when we forced a fumble on the second-half kickoff, but couldn’t get the recovery,” WA head coach Randy Spencer said. “Then, they follow it up with that touchdown. I think we started to press a little bit once we got down.”

For Wyoming Area (1-1), it was about missed opportunities in the first half.

Twice, the Warriors were inside the Williamsport 35, but both times, the Millionaires forced big stops on fourth-down plays.

And the only difference in the first 24 minutes was one play. On a third-and-8, Williamsport signal-caller Frankie Marrone found speedster Cameron Sims on a slant across the middle of the field, and the receiver did the rest, running 47 yards to the end zone for the lone first-half score.

“Talented players and big plays hurt us,” Spencer said. “I think the failure to capitalize on a few drives in the first half really changed the complexion of the game. Give their guys credit because they made some big plays.”

Wyoming Area got back to a three-score game late in the third quarter on Vincenzo Giambra’s 10-yard TD, but Williamsport iced it with 7:23 left when Marrone connected with Keith Freeman on a 56-yard strike and a 35-7 lead.

A late 56-yard connection from Williams to Rocco Pizano with 55 ticks left ended the scoring.

“When their quarterback went down there for a bit in the third quarter, I think it threw their rhythm off,” Crews said. “We were able to capitalize with two defensive touchdowns, and that’s what really put the game out of reach. And the opening TD on the first play of the second half didn’t hurt, either.”

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