One turnover put Wyoming Area in need of a comeback.
Another kept the Warriors from completing that effort Friday night.
Kyle Gavrish returned a third-quarter interception 69 yards to break a scoreless tie and a backfield collision led to a fumble from the 10 with 1:09 remaining as Nanticoke pulled out a 14-7 Wyoming Valley Conference football victory.
The Trojans were on the receiving end of three of the game’s four turnovers in a game that the host Warriors otherwise dominated statistically.
“Our kids played with a lot of heart,” Nanticoke coach Ron Bruza said. “They bent but they did not break.”
Wyoming Area led in first downs (14-6), rushing yards (118-78), passing yards (134-31), offensive plays (71-40), total offense (252-109) and time of possession (31:25-16:35).
In between the big turnovers, Wyoming Area mounted an impressive comeback attempt.
The Warriors were in the “two-minute offense” for more than four minutes while going the length of the field for their only score.
Nanticoke appeared to be on the verge of its third touchdown in eight minutes when quarterback Joe Levandowski fumbled while trying to fight his way into the end zone on first-and-goal from the 1 with the Trojans up, 14-0.
Farrad Condry recovered for the Warriors with 8:41 left.
Wyoming Area hurried through 17 plays that covered 101 yards (a 91-yard scoring drive in which the Warriors overcame a pair of five-yard penalties). The Warriors converted a third-and-11, a fourth-and-one and a fourth-and-21 before finally scoring on third-and-10 with 4:21 left.
“The idea with eight or nine minutes left and down two scores, we had to start going uptempo and get moving a little bit,” Warriors coach Randy Spencer said. “When we had a stoppage of clock, we’d huddle and get a play called and then we were going with our two-minute type drill.
“That got us in a different gear.”
Josh Wilson picked up a blitz to give Kyle Borton time to find Jeremy Seabridge wide open for a 10-yard touchdown. Danielle Stillarty added the extra point.
Robert Wargo’s sack for an 11-yard loss and Ryan Murray’s 28-yard punt return gave Wyoming Area another chance from the Nanticoke 18 with 2:29 left.
Wilson ran seven yards on first down before the Warriors stalled. Two runs produced just one yard. On fourth-and-two, Borton ran into running back Jeff Skursky, sending the ball loose. Alec Norton recovered and Nanticoke simply kneeled down three times to clinch the win.
“The kids did a good job rallying back, getting ourselves in a position where we could potentially tie or go for the win,” Spencer said, “but you’ve got to finish the drive.”
Spencer said no decision had been made yet, but he was leaning toward going for the winning two-pointer because of the momentum the team had picked up in its comeback.
The fumble meant they never got that chance.
The Warriors had plenty of chances in the first half.
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.
The Trojans went more than 25 minutes without a first down and had only been in Warriors territory for one play before taking the lead when Gavrish jumped in front of a slant pass with 4:52 left in the third.
“I saw one guy to beat, then I saw a blocker and it was all open field from there,” said Gavrish, a safety who also made 10 tackles and assisted on eight.
Nanticoke (2-3) took control from there.
Pat Hempel ran 25 yards on third-and-eight late in the third quarter. Nanticoke continued the drive into the fourth quarter, which opened with the team’s only pass completion of the game, a 31-yarder from Levandowski to Tyler Myers. Levandowski scored from the 3 on the next play for a 14-0 lead.
Borton took over at quarterback following the interception that broke the tie. He finished 5-for-12 for 89 yards and the touchdown.
Seabridge caught three passes for 35 yards while Ben Steve caught two for 46 and Skursky caught two for 37.
Wilson led the Warriors with 54 rushing yards on 16 carries while Skursky added 51 on 12 carries.
Skursky came back missing last week’s game with a concussion. He led the Warriors defensively with eight tackles and six assists.
Wargo added four tackles and five assists. He had the sack and another tackle for a loss.
Michael Lumley had six tackles and three assists.
The Warriors are home Friday night against Holy Redeemer.