Southern Columbia’s 64-game winning streak was pushed to the limit Friday night at Wyoming Area before the Tigers used a touchdown in the final minute to escape with a 37-30 victory in a non-league football game between state contenders.
The four-time defending Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association state Class 2A champion Tigers recovered from a 24-7 halftime deficit and took the lead for the first time on Gavin Garcia’s fifth touchdown of the game, a 1-yard run with 31.8 seconds left.
The game was much different than when the two teams met two years ago, also at Anthony “Jake” Sobeski Stadium, with both unbeaten and on their way to 2019 state titles. Following a scoreless first quarter, the Tigers broke away for a 42-0 victory that night.
This time around, Wyoming Area scored the first 14 points and twice built 17-point leads.
The Warriors led 30-13 with less than five minutes left in the third quarter and were up 30-29 until Garcia’s last touchdown.
Southern Columbia rallied with three straight Garcia touchdown runs, each followed by a Wes Barnes two-point conversion run.
Garcia, who ran for more than 250 yards, scored on a 2-yard run with 4:12 left in the third quarter to make it 30-21, then a 32-yarder with 29 seconds left in the quarter to make it a one-point game.
Southern Columbia set up the dramatic finish by stopping Wyoming Area on fourth-and-goal.
The Tigers then drove 99 yards in 3 minutes to keep their winning streak intact.
Wyoming Area used a variety of weapons to build its leads.
Blaise Sokach-Minnick hit 8 of 19 passes for 154 yards and touchdowns to two different receivers. Drew Mruk and Leo Haros each ran for 92 yards and a score.
Sokach-Minnick found two receivers three times each. Rocco Pizano turned his 3 catches into 65 yards while John Morgan picked up 42. Pizano and Usamah Alansari caught the touchdown passes.
Mruk opened the scoring on a 31-yard run, but the kick was blocked.
After Sokach-Minnick hit Alansari with a 26-yard touchdown pass, Mruk ran for the two-pointer and a 14-0 lead with 3:47 still remaining in the first quarter.
Southern Columbia answered before the quarter ended when Garcia caught a 28-yard touchdown pass from Liam Klebon.
Pizano’s 32-yard touchdown reception and Jayden Rusyn’s 30-yard field goal added to Wyoming Area’s lead in the second quarter.
Garcia struck quickly to begin the second half, scoring from 54 yards with 8:49 left in the third.
Haros answered with a 37-yard run less than minutes later, leaving the Tigers in need of a comeback.
Their response extended the team’s regular-season winning streak to 92 games.
Nick Elko, who had a sack, and Rusyn were each in on eight tackles.
MORE FRIDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL COVERAGE
Carbondale-Hanover Area; https://nepasportsnation.com/carbondale-shuts-out-hanover-area/.
Crestwood-Western Wayne: https://nepasportsnation.com/crestwood-shuts-out-wildcats/.
Hazleton Area-Pittston Area: https://nepasportsnation.com/wolfe-shamany-combo-lifts-cougars/.
Holy Cross/Columbia-Montour Vo-Tech: https://nepasportsnation.com/honesdale-pulls-away-in-second-half/.
Holy Redeemer-Montrose: https://nepasportsnation.com/shoats-leads-royals-to-first-win/.
North Pocono-Tunkhannock: https://nepasportsnation.com/potent-offense-fuels-trojans-win/.
Valley View-Scranton: https://nepasportsnation.com/unbeaten-cougars-keep-rolling/.
Wyoming Valley West-Abington Heights: https://nepasportsnation.com/cobb-rallies-spartans-to-victory/.