WEST PITTSTON — Kyle Gavrish made the game’s biggest play and a whole lot of little ones.
The senior safety returned an interception 69 yards to break a scoreless tie in the third quarter and was the game’s leading tackler while helping Nanticoke to a 14-7 victory over host Wyoming Area in a Wyoming Valley Conference football game Friday night.
“Kyle is a first-class player for us,” Nanticoke coach Ron Bruza said. “He’s our team leader. He’s our captain. He’s our unsung hero.
“He leads by example.”
Gavrish came up quickly from the secondary against the run to make 10 tackles, including one for a loss, and assist on seven others. He used similar aggression to jump into the path of Wyoming Area pass plays, breaking up one at the goal line and jumping in front of a slant pass for the play that opened the scoring with 4:52 left in the third quarter.
When he broke on the ball, Gavrish made the interception on the fly and just needed one block from Ron Kotz to clear the path to the end zone.
“I saw one guy to beat, then I saw a blocker and it was all open field from there,” Gavrish said.
Although the game was scoreless before Gavrish’s interception, Nanticoke had taken just one snap in Wyoming Area territory – from the 47 – while the Warriors had applied constant pressure, taking 27 in Trojans territory.
“Our kids played with a lot of heart,” Bruza said. “They bent, but they did not break.”
Nanticoke (2-3) carried the momentum following Gavrish’s touchdown.
Pat Hempel ran 25 yards on third-and-8 for the first Nanticoke first down in more than 25 minutes. The Trojans then completed their only pass when J.T. Levandowski hit Tyler Myers for 31 yards on the first play of the fourth quarter. Levandowski carried it in from the 3 on the next play for a 14-0 lead.
Wyoming Area (1-4) stopped the next Nanticoke possession after it reached the 1, then threatened to pull off a comeback for its second straight victory.
The Warriors went 91 yards in 17 plays in just 4:20 to score on a 10-yard pass from Kyle Borton to Jeremy Seabridge.
They made it back to the Nanticoke 10 with 1:09 left but a backfield mix-up on fourth-and-2 led to a fumble and game-clinching turnover. Alec Norton, who had an earlier interception, recovered the fumble.
Wyoming Area reached Nanticoke territory on all three first-half possessions, but never got closer than the Trojans 18.
Nanticoke stopped Wyoming Area twice on downs and another drive ended in a missed field goal.
“We had our opportunities, but we didn’t finish drives,” Wyoming Area coach Randy Spencer said.
Bruza presented the game ball to senior Danny Green following the game. Green’s father died earlier in the day.
“We won this game for Danny Green,” Bruza said.
Nanticoke 14, Wyoming Area 7
NAN – Kyle Gavrish 69 interception return (Alec Norton kick), 4:52
NAN – J.T. Levandowski 3 run (Norton kick), 11:49
WA – Jeremy Seabridge 10 pass from Kyle Borton (Danielle Stillarty kick), 4:21
RUSHING — NAN, Pat Hempel 12-81, Ron Kotz 5-15, Blake Balderramma 3-4, J.T. Levandowski 10-minus 17. WA, Jason Wilson 16-54, Jeff Skursky 12-51, Ryan Gorki 12-27, Robert Wargo 3-2, Marty Michaels 4-minus 1, Kyle Borton 3-minus 15.
PASSING — NAN, Levandowski 1-7-0-31. WA, Borton 5-12-0-89, Gorki 3-9-2-45.
RECEIVING — NAN, Tyler Myers 1-31. WA, Jeremy Seabridge 3-35, Ben Steve 2-46, Skursky 2-37, Evan Skene 1-8, Farrad Condry 1-8.
INTERCEPTIONS — NAN, Kyle Gavrish 1-69, Alec Norton 1-0.
MISSED FGs — WA, Lenkaitis 37.