NEPA Sports Nation

Memo touchdown rallies Cougars

By Tom Robinson,

PECKVILLE – Valley View and Scranton Prep traded momentum right up until the next-to-last play of their meeting for the Lackawanna Football Conference Division 1 title to close out the regular season.

Nothing the Cavaliers came up with, however, was able to offset what will go down as the biggest play of the 2022 LFC season.

Dominic Memo’s catch and run with an Adam Howanitz pass with 1:14 left covered 79 yards for the game- and championship-winning touchdown in a 22-16, home-field victory by the Cougars Oct. 28 at John Henzes/Veterans Memorial Stadium.

The Cougars received a bonus for their late rally. The two teams went into the night figuring to play for a share of the division championship, but Valley View was able to claim it outright when Delaware Valley, the third team in a first-place tie when the night started, was upset by Abington Heights, 38-13.

Valley View had lost out on the LFC Division 2 title in a battle of unbeatens on the same field on the same weekend in the same match-up a year ago and was in danger of watching Scranton Prep celebrate again as it arrived at the game’s final two minutes.

An illegal participation penalty hindered Scranton Prep’s chances of producing a clock-killing, third-down conversion and Valley View immediately took advantage.

Memo briefly got open deep and Howanitz, who threw for two Valley View touchdowns and ran for the other, launched a long pass down the left hash. Memo came back and went over a defender to pull in the reception near midfield, then somehow spun out of a crowd into the clear to race the rest of the way for the touchdown.

“I saw it was a little underthrown, so I knew I had to come back for it,” Memo said. “The corner left it in a spot where I could take it out of his hands.

“And, I took it and when I got it, I just saw green grass in front of me. It was the best feeling in the world.”

The touchdown, combined with a Howanitz two-point conversion pass to Kyle Rupp, gave Valley View its six-point margin, but Scranton Prep was not done yet.

The Cavaliers hurried to the Cougars 13 before Gianni Marino hit the passer on third down, forcing an incompletion and was part of the rush again on fourth down before Steven Halloran tracked down Louis Paris at the sideline for a game-clinching sack.

“I saw a wide-open lane to the quarterback, he didn’t see me at all,” Marino said of the third-down play. “But, then it came up to a fourth down and we made that stop for the game.”

The Valley View pass rushers provided the last twist in a game that took many turns along the way.

Scranton Prep made the first move.

The Cavaliers moved 66 yards with the game-opening drive, taking exactly half of the first quarter for their 10 plays, 9 of which were runs.

Paris scored from the 1 for a 7-0 lead.

Although its first drive stalled a yard short at the 10, Valley View controlled play from the moment the opening Scranton Prep drive ended until the Cougars finally took the lead on a Howanitz 5-yard run with 5:26 left in the third quarter.

During that span of 24:34 – more than half the game – the Cougars moved the ball and forced the Cavaliers into four straight three-and-outs. They had advantages of 10-0 in first downs, 179-18 in total offense and 18:14-6:20 in time of possession during that stretch.

As soon as it fell behind, Scranton Prep bounced back strong.

It was the Cavaliers who ruled the next 16 minutes, scoring twice to take the lead and threatening to finish off the Cougars.

Before Memo’s catch, Scranton Prep controlled field position and had an 8-1 lead in first downs, a 123-16 advantage in total offense and an 11:56-4:04 edge in time of possession as it appeared to close in on another title.

Scranton Prep was at midfield facing third-and-four when it came out of a timeout with 1:46 remaining and ran a play with too many players on the field.

That set up third-and-19. Halloran and Dylan Walsh combined on a stop to force a punt and get the Cougars their last chance to recover from a 16-14 deficit.

Memo made sure Valley View made the most of it.

“He made a great catch last week in our game for a big first down,” Valley View coach George Howanitz said. “He’s really been doing a nice job. He gets a little better each day in practice; Adam’s getting a little more confident in him and he’s making plays.

“When you get the ball to him, he makes the play.”

Valley View’s first score was the result of converting two fourth downs and a third-and-10 during a 13-play, 60-yard, second-quarter scoring drive.

Howanitz ran for 16 on third-and-10 near midfield early in the drive, then Connor Hilling ran to convert fourth-and-two in the Red Zone.

Taheed Jewell scored from the 10 on fourth-and-six on a slant pass from Howanitz to force a 7-7 tie with 5:11 left in the second.

A partially blocked punt by Robert Sebastianelli set up Valley View at the Scranton Prep 28, leading to Howanitz’s go-ahead score.

Paris then went 7-for-7 on a 13-play scoring drive that carried into the fourth quarter. He ran four yards on fourth-and-three, then Quenten Palermo scored from the 2 on the next play.

A.J. Kucharski, who had one clean and one partial punt block the week before, provided pressure that appeared to influence Scranton Prep’s missed extra point, keeping Valley View in front, 14-13.

Scranton Prep pinned Valley View deep, took over the Cougars 36 and went ahead on a Raymond Rinaldi, 24-yard field goal with 5:17 remaining.

The Cougars managed to come up with stops on the last two possessions to make Memo’s catch hold up as the winner.

“We changed up the defense a little to try to get some extra guys,” coach Howanitz said. “They give you so many mismatches. They’re tough to defend.

“I don’t know if we even had everyone covered at times, but our kids did a good job. We got some pressure on them, made them scramble and we made some big plays at the end.”

The teams finished nearly even statistically.

Scranton Prep led in first downs, 14-12; passing yards, 123-117, and time of possession, 25:08-22:52. Valley View led in rushing yards, 168-115, and total offense, 285-240.

Hilling ran for 82 yards on 18 carries while Adam Howanitz had 70 on 13 carries.

Palermo had 79 yards on 18 carries for Scranton Prep.

Paris went 11-for-16 for his 123 yards. Howanitz was 6-for 13 for 117 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Walsh led the Valley View defense with 10 tackles and 3 assists. Connor Swartz made six tackles, assisted on two and broke up two passes. Halloran had two sacks among his five tackles.

Both teams advance into district playoffs – Valley View in Class 4A and Scranton Prep in Class 3A – as second seeds and hosts of openers.

The Cougars go in wearing the title of LFC Division 1 champions.

“It’s nice,” coach Howanitz said. “Our kids worked hard. We won some games people didn’t think we’d win.

“Our kids fought hard all year and we have a good senior class full of leaders. I think that makes a difference.”

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