NEPA Sports Nation

Warriors run straight to D2 title

By Tom Robinson,

SCRANTON – Delaware Valley took a straight-line approach to turning around Thursday night’s District 2 Class 5A football championship game.

Operating frequently out of a straight-I formation, with all three backs lined up directly behind the quarterback, Delaware Valley attacked the interior of the Scranton defense on three straight second-half scoring drives.

The Warriors then shook off a late comeback attempt by the Knights when Jackson Corrie’s interception with 1:36 left sealed a 24-21 victory at Memorial Stadium.

Ryder Machado ran for two touchdowns and intercepted a pass in the final 10 minutes to rally Delaware Valley.

Machado combined with Paulie Weinrich, each carrying 20 times in a power running game that brought the Warriors back after a sluggish first half offensively.

The Warriors trailed, 7-3, at halftime and had built little evidence that they would be able to move the ball effectively on the ground, yet they committed to an inside power game that allowed them to emerge from three second-half lead changes as the district champion.

Delaware Valley ran the ball on 39 of 41 second-half offensive plays, including all 33 after the opening drive of the half ended in an interception.

Scranton controlled the first half, holding Delaware Valley without a first down until the final two minutes of the half, after the Knights had taken a 7-0 lead.

The Knights went 56 yards in 12 plays to take the lead with 2:16 left in the second quarter.

Billy Maloney ran for a conversion on fourth-and-one, passed 16 yards to Donato Stepney on third-and-nine, then ran the final yard for the touchdown.

Delaware Valley, which had not produced a play of more than six yards to that point, moved down the field for a 32-yard Everett Bell field goal on the last play of the half.

Weinrich, who finished with 154 yards and a touchdown, had a 15-yard run up the middle on third-and-10 for the team’s initial first down. Logan Olsommer completed 3 passes for 36 yards.

Scranton ended the half with statistical advantages of 6-3 in first downs, 34-31 in rushing yards, 94-41 in passing yards, 128-72 in total offense and 15:45-8:15 in time of possession.

Things reversed in the second half.

Delaware Valley led 12-4 in first downs, 242-17 in rushing yards, 242-121 in total offense and 17:06-6:54 in time of possession.

The Warriors were at their best in three straight scoring drives that seemed to have decided the game prior to some late drama caused by turnovers.

Otherwise unable to move the ball on the ground while averaging 1.4 yards per carry, the Warriors carried 11 times or 83 yards in their first touchdown down, 4 times for 91 yards in the next and 8 times, all by Machado, for 61 yards in the last.

After turning the ball over to begin the second half, Delaware Valley got a defensive stop from Kolton Handy and Justin Kalitsnik on fourth down at its 16 with 4:56 left in the third quarter, still trailing, 7-3.

Machado went 7 yards from the top of the straight-I on fourth down, ran 21 yards to the 4 on the next play and Weinrich scored from there with 13.6 seconds left in the third quarter, giving the Warriors their first lead, 10-7.

Scranton was back in front 1:05 later when Maloney found Stepney deep down the right sideline for a 51-yard touchdown.

Stepney finished with 6 catches for 150 yards as Maloney went 13-for-24 for 198 yards along with rushing for 2 scores.

The lead changed again 1:14 later.

A negative kick return and a penalty made Delaware Valley start from its 9.

Weinrich ran 15, 14 and 61 yards to race the Warriors down field to the 1. Machado took it in on the next play, putting Delaware Valley ahead to stay, 17-14, with 9:55 left.

Machado handled the next drive by himself with runs of 15 and 21 yards on the way to a 3-yard touchdown and 24-14 lead with 4:26 left.

When Machado, who ran for 119 yards, followed that up with his team-high sixth interception of the season.

Scranton used all three of its timeouts on defense and suddenly put a stop to the Delaware Valley ground game.

When the Warriors went to punt, a bouncing snap got away, leading to a turnover at the 4.

Maloney scored on the next play to pull the Knights within 24-21.

Scranton was unsuccessful on the on-side kick, but forced a fumble on second down and took over at its 39 with 1:48 left.

Corrie’s second-down interception finally stopped the last threat.

Kalitsnik had eight tackles and seven assists to lead a defense that held Scranton to less than two yards per carry. He had one tackle for a loss and broke up a pass.

Delaware Valley’s seventh straight district title and first since dropping down from Class 6A sends the Warriors into the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association state tournament. The Warriors (7-5) will head south next week to play the District 11 champion, the winner of Saturday night’s game between Southern Lehigh (9-2) and Whitehall (6-5).

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