Game-changing plays in the closing seconds of the first half and opening seconds of the second half Friday led to a change of leadership in Lackawanna Football Conference Division 3.
Dominico Spataro made one of the plays and took advantage of the other, scoring touchdowns that broke a tie and sent visiting Lakeland on its way to a 34-14 victory over Mid Valley.
The Chiefs broke a six-game winning streak by the Spartans and took away their division lead.
Lakeland is 2-0 in the division and 7-1 overall. Mid Valley, which suffered its other loss to unbeaten LFC Division 4 co-leader Old Forge, is 2-1 and 6-2.
The game was tied, 7-7, until Spataro avoided a sack on a drop-back pass and emerged from the pocket to scramble 16 yards for a touchdown with 1.6 seconds left in the half.
Mid Valley had trouble handling the second-half kickoff. A scramble ensued at the 9-yard line, knocking the ball loose with several Lakeland players in pursuit before Jake Curcio came up with the recovery at the 1.
The Spartans held tough, forcing Lakeland to need three cracks before Spataro scored on a 1-yard quarterback sneak.
Spataro, a junior quarterback, accounted for all five Lakeland touchdowns to continue a highly productive season running the Chiefs offense. He has accounted for 2,090 yards and 24 touchdowns combined rushing and passing.
While hitting 9 of 24 passes for 170 yards and 2 touchdowns, Spataro ran 18 times for 83 yards and 3 touchdowns.
Lakeland ran off 27 straight points while its defense was dominating.
The Spartans scored in the final minute.
Lacota Dippre led the Lakeland defense with two sacks and two other tackles for losses. Luke Smurl had three tackles for losses, including a sack. Jaron Bullick had a 30-yard fumble return to set up the third of Lakeland’s four straight touchdowns. Curcio had six tackles, including a sack, and three assists to go along with his recovery of the mishandled kickoff.
Lakeland opened the game with a scoring drive, a forced three-and-out and another threat before Mid Valley responded to tie the game and appear at times to be assuming control of the momentum.
Spataro hit Nick Mancuso on a fly pattern down the right sideline for 52 yards on the game’s first play.
Following a penalty that forced first-and-27, Spataro ran 13 yards. He hit Dippre and Mancuso for consecutive 11-yard passes on third-and-14, then on fourth-and-3 for the touchdown.
The Chiefs had a 7-0 lead less than two minutes into the game.
Mid Valley forced a tie in the last minute of the first quarter on the first of Cameron Riccardo’s two touchdown passes.
Riccardo threw a short pass over the middle to Kyle Marcinkevich, who then spun out of the grasp of two tacklers near the 40 and sprinted to the end zone.
After Bullick’s fumble return, Spataro threw a 23-yard touchdown pass to Dippre, who had a team-high 5 catches for 70 yards. That made it 27-7 going to the fourth quarter.
Spataro added a 3-yard touchdown run in the fourth before Mid Valley scored on Riccardo’s 33-yard pass to Devin Ayala.
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