To win big games, you have to make big plays. And the games don’t get much bigger than Pittston Area taking on cross-river rival Wyoming Area.
The Patriots scored all four of their touchdowns from 50 or more yards out, led by a pair of Kyle Gattuso long runs in the first quarter, to upend Wyoming Area, 28-14, in the 47th regular season match up between the teams.
Gattuso racked up 123 yards in the first quarter, including scoring runs of 60 and 66 yards, on his way to the 36th annual Carmello Falcone Memorial Most Valuable Player award. He finished the game with 210 yards on 25 carries.
“All the credit goes to the offensive linemen tonight,” Gattuso said. “Those two seniors, Billy Sacramastro and Mike Hughes, they played great.”
Pittston Area knew it had to control the line of scrimmage to win the ballgame - that’s on both sides of the ball. Led by Hughes and Sacramastro, Gattuso was able to gash the Warrior defense early.
Dating back to 1966, when these two schools each took form, this rivalry has been a staple to the Greater Pittston area. When Pittston Area coach Mike Barrett took over the program three years ago, he wasn’t exactly familiar with how these games can get.
And when you have two teams, in the final game of the season whose records aren’t exactly stellar, it’s impressive to see the turnout at Jake Sobeski Stadium.
“It’s a great rivalry,” Barrett said. “I told the kids until I came down to Pittston Area I didn’t realize how big it was. You’ll never understand it until you’re in it.”
Gattuso’s first scoring run came midway through the first quarter. The Patriots went to a Wildcat look for the first time in the game and the junior took it to the end zone.
But the Warriors were able to answer quickly.
Jeff Skursky finished his junior season with 152 yards on 27 carries. His first of two touchdowns came after a 65-yard drive in which Skursky racked up all of the yardage and capped it off with a 4-yard run.
That was late in the first quarter. And on Pittston’s next possession, Gattuso was at it again.
The junior took the hand off and found a seam right through the heart of the Wyoming Area defense. He wasn’t touched on his way to a 66-yard score and a 13-7 Patriot lead to close out the first quarter.
“A big shoutout to Mike Hughes,” Gattuso said. “Those two big runs he made great blocks. The award should be his.”
With six minutes left in the first half, Wyoming Area started a drive on its own 15. Seven plays later, the Warriors had to punt from their own 15.
Schwab fielded the punt at his own 47, making one quick move and then dashed down the sideline. He was never touched until his teammates piled on him in the end zone.
“He has such great leadership,” Gattuso said of Schwab. “Don’t get me wrong, he’s a great athlete and he showed it on the punt return. He’s the leader of this team.”
Schwab also recovered a fumble for the Patriots.
Midway through the third quarter, Pittston Area employed an 84-yard drive that was capped by Zach Hoffman’s 50-yard touchdown scamper - it was the same play Gattuso scored on in the first quarter.
Skursky and the Warriors were able to sustain one last drive in the fourth quarter.
Starting on Pittston’s 34, quarterback Kyle Borton hit A.J. Lenkaitis for a 17-yard gain. A play later Skursky punched it in from 10 yards out.
“They are a very big team and physical,” Barrett said of Wyoming Area. “Skursky’s a great back. Credit to our defense. We’re lean and built more for speed. We bent a lot of times but we didn’t break.”
The Warriors managed just 209 total yards, 185 of those coming on the ground. Wyoming Area now leads the all-time series 25-24 - the two teams met twice in the postseason over the years.
“Despite everything, it’s a great rivalry,” Gattuso said. “You won’t find anything better. Respect to Wyoming Area. They played a great game.”
Each team converted 10 first downs. Pittston Area finished with 271 yards on the ground to Wyoming Area’s 185. Patriot quarterback James Emmett completed his first two passes for 59 yards to Rich Weinstock. He completed just one more pass the rest of the way.
Combined, the two team were 5-for-23 throwing the football - it was expected to be a running game. Defensively, Pittston Area got a huge game out of end Michael Harth. Harth, who is known for his speed as a split end of offense, had three passes batted down at the line of scrimmage. Two of those were on crucial third downs.
Pittston Area and Wyoming Area have now split the last four meetings. The Warriors won three straight from 2005-2007. Pittston’s latest winning streak was in 2008 and 2009.