WILKES-BARRE – Wyoming Area’s Jeff Skursky ran over two tacklers on the way to the end zone on his 41st carry of the night in the final minute.
The GAR defense came up with a better answer with the game on the line on the ensuing two-point conversion attempt.
Three Grenadiers defenders combined to stop Skursky’s two-point conversion attempt, allowing GAR to hold on for its second win of the season, 35-34, Friday night.
Kyle Merth made the first hit, Saul Wilkins stopped the 210-pound tailback’s momentum and Shaq Everett joined in to help wrestle Skursky to the ground at about the 1 with 32.6 seconds left.
“Our defense has been a little suspect at times, but it really came to play tonight, especially coming into the game 1-6,” GAR coach Paul Wiedlich Jr. said.
Offense was the story of the game for much of the first half when Skursky ran for three touchdowns in a span of 6:49, but GAR still emerged with a 28-21 lead.
The Grenadiers stood up to a steady pounding by Skursky, who finished with 202 yards and four touchdowns on 41 carries, and answered with an explosive offensive attack.
Rashaun Mathis accounted for four touchdowns while producing 119 yards rushing and the same amount passing on just seven attempts. He threw for three scores and raced 63 yards for the longest of the game’s 10 touchdowns.
“Being a Senior Night, Rashaun really stepped up throwing the ball and running the ball,” Wiedlich said. “He really took charge.”
GAR scored on its first two possessions, but turnovers allowed Wyoming Area to score touchdowns 1:03 apart.
Skursky, who ran on nine of Wyoming Area’s first 10 plays to produce a first-quarter touchdown, scored on the short runs early in the second quarter for a 21-14 lead. He scored following a muffed punt at the GAR 27 and a 35-yard Ryan Murray interception return to the 7.
Mathis put GAR back in front at halftime. His long touchdown run tied the game and his 37-yard pass to Kyle Merth gave the Grenadiers the lead.
The pace slowed in the scoreless third quarter.
After Wyoming Area’s Farrad Condry returned a punt 48 yards to tie the game for the fourth time, Mathis split two defenders to find Merth in the end zone for the go-ahead score with 3:04 left.
Rich Sickler hit the last of his five extra-point kicks for what proved to be the winning point.
Wyoming Area finished with the same patience it used to start the game. Skursky carried on the first four and the last three plays of the final drive.
Wiedlich said he was prepared the possibility of a quarterback keeper around the end, but the bulk of GAR’s attention had to be on Skursky.
“He’s their meat-and-potatoes guy,” Wiedlich said. “We knew he was going to touch the ball, probably 98 percent of the team. We knew going for two, he was going to get the ball.”
Wyoming Area, which pulled out a late win over Meyers last week, fell to 3-5.
“Last week, we got the three yards when we needed it, this time we didn’t,” Wyoming Area coach Randy Spencer said.
GAR 35, Wyoming Area 34
GAR – Rashaun Jackson 57 pass from Rashaun Mathis (Rich Sickler kick), 9:56
WA – Jeff Skursky 2 run (Danielle Stillarty kick), 5:19
GAR – Sickler 48 run (Sickler kick), 3:52
WA – Skursky 3 run (Stillarty kick), 11:33
WA – Skursky 3 run (Stillarty kick), 10:30
GAR – Mathis 63 run (Sickler kick), 8:48
GAR – Kyle Merth 37 pass from Mathis (Sickler kick), 2:29
WA — Farrad Condry 48 punt return (Stillarty kick), 9:42
GAR – Merth 8 pass from Mathis (Stillarty kick), 3:04
WA – Skursky 7 run (run failed), :32
RUSHING — WA, Jeff Skursky 41-202, Ryan Gorki 4-21, Marty Michaels 3-8. GAR, Rashaun Mathis 14-119, Anthony Maurent 14-79, Rich Sickler 7-65, Shaq Everett 1-4, Korey Welkey 1-1, Team 1-minus 1.
PASSING — WA, Gorki 2-4-0-16, Kyle Borton 1-2-0-17. GAR, Mathis 4-7-1-119.
RECEIVING — WA, Farrad Condry 2-16, Jeremy Seabridge 1-17. GAR, Rashaun Jackson 2-68, Kyle Merth 2-45.
INTERCEPTIONS — WA, Ryan Murray 1-35.
MISSED FGs — None.