Many people were calling the match-up between Dallas and Wyoming Valley West the “Game of the Year” in the Wyoming Valley Conference. They sure were right.
Wyoming Valley West rallied from a two touchdown, fourth quarter deficit only to have Penn State recruit Eugene Lewis stopped by Dallas on a two-point conversion attempt to preserve a 28-27 win for the Mountaineers.
Trailing 28-14 with 7:49 remaining, Lewis engineered two drives to pull the Spartans to within one point.
First, it was a six-play, 61-yard drive that saw Lewis score from the two yard line. After the extra point kick was good, Dallas lead was now 28-21.
The Wyoming Valley West defense forced a three-and-out on the next Dallas possession and the Spartans took over at their own 48 yard line after a 28-yard punt return by Lewis.
With 3:49 remaining, Lewis carried the ball three times for a Wyoming Valley West first down and then completed a 23-yard pass to Dylan Flayhart to the Dallas 22.
Facing a 3rd and 2 on the next series of downs, Lewis appeared to run for a first down inside the Dallas 10, but the Spartans were flagged for a hold and that created a 3rd and 12. After an incompletion, Spartans coach Pat Keating called his second time out.
On fourth down, Lewis rolled to his right and under pressure, heaved the ball into the end zone where Lucky Williams jumped between the two Dallas defenders for the touchdown.
After another time out, Keating decided to go for two and the win. Lewis again rolled to his right with a run/pass option. He turned up field at the 5 and tried to knife between three Mountaineers’ defenders but Dallas brought him down short of the goal line as the home sideline and crowd erupted.
Wyoming Valley West would attempt an outside kick, but Dallas recovered and took a knee to seal the victory.
The Mountaineers defense picked off Lewis three times and were the beneficiaries of two fumbled handoffs from Lewis to Derrick Simms. Simms was replacing starting running back Tashawn Bunch who left the game in the first quarter with an injury.
Dallas took advantage of two of the first half turnovers, turning them into scores. Paul Brace, who was playing his first game of the season, caught a 15-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Ryan Zapoticky for a 7-0 lead.
As the first half was ending, Kris Roccograndi picked off Lewis and returned the ball to the Wyoming Valley West 15-yard line. After a 5-yard penalty, Zapoticky found Shane Dunn in the end zone with :15 seconds remaining to give the Mounts a 14-0 halftime lead.
Dallas received the second half kickoff, but on the second play from scrimmage, the Mountaineers botched an option pitch and the Spartans recovered the loose ball. Lewis would score six plays later on a 15-yard run to cut the lead 14-7.
Wyoming Valley West would get the ball back after a Dallas three-and -out, but the Mountaineers’ Jason Simonovich would intercept a Lewis’ pass at the Mounts 10 yard line to preserve the lead.
Dallas would then extend the lead back to two touchdowns with a 7-play, 82-yard drive. Ryan Zapoticky took it around the right end from one-yard out for a 21-7 lead at the end of the third quarter.
Wyoming Valley West answered with a 6-play, 51-yard drive keyed by a 17-yard reception by Simms. Lewis would score from the 18 yardline two plays later, his longest run of the afternoon.
Dallas put together another scoring drive that took five plays culminated by a Jim Roccograndi 11-yard TD run that gave 28-14 lead. Roccograndi rushed for 108 yards on 19 carries on the day.
That set up the comeback by Wyoming Valley West and the dramatic stop by the Dallas defense.
Zapoticky completed 7 of 10 passes for 116 yards and touchdown. Dunn was the leading receiver for the Mounts with four catches for 50 yards and a touchdown.
Lewis rushed 35 times for 161 yards and was 15 for 21 for 186 yards and a touchdown. However, he did throw three interceptions. Flayhart was the leading Spartans’ receiver with six catches for 65 yards and a touchdown.
Wyoming Valley West outgained Dallas 381 to 295, but the five turnovers were too much to overcome.
Dallas (6-0, 5-0) will host Crestwood next Saturday in another battle of conference unbeatens. Wyoming Valley West (5-1, 3-1) hosts Hazleton Area on Friday.