Valley West Holds Off Coughlin
WILKES-BARRE — It wasn’t a series that determined the outcome or defined the game. But when Valley West went on a 94-yard, 18-play drive to punch in its final score of the night, Spartans head coach Pat Keating saw something that he needed to see.
“We charted 18 plays; we really needed that at that point,” Keating said. “I got on our guys at halftime. I think we are content in just giving people easy stuff. We have to have more effort and desire.”
The effort was there in the second half when the Spartans eventually were able to pull away with a 28-14 victory over Coughlin on Friday night at Wilkes-Barre Memorial Stadium. The win enabled the Spartans to snap a three-game losing streak and move to 4-3 on the year. Coughlin dropped to 0-7.
Valley West running back Carson Canavan rushed for 162 yards, and with his final total, the senior reached 1,000 yards rushing for the season with three regular-season games left to play.
The Spartans scored one touchdown in each of the four quarters, and Nah-Syr Garner put the Spartans ahead early when he scored on a 52-yard run. Valley West went ahead by two scores at the 4:31 mark of the second quarter when Canavan caught a swing pass out of the backfield and went 66 yards for a touchdown.
But as has been the case all season, Coughlin did not go away without a fight. Rafael McCoy took the ensuing kick 87 yards for a touchdown to trim the Valley West lead to 14-6 at the half.
“In some ways, I wasn’t happy with the lack of effort in certain areas,” Keating said. “We need to get better in those areas. The kickoff return in the second quarter, we have to get on the right track as far as effort is concerned.”
Garner came up big for the Spartans on the defensive side of the ball during Coughlin’s first drive of the third quarter. Garner picked off a pass at the Valley West 45 and returned it to the Coughlin 30. Seven plays later, Dylan Nastanski caught a 12-yard touchdown pass from Jake Shusta to make it a two-score game.
“It was tight. The guys came motivated coming out of the locker room,” Keating said. “They were able to make that big play.”
Garner’s interception pretty much summed up Coughlin’s season through the first seven weeks. The Crusaders, despite their low numbers, gave the Spartans everything they could handle.
“All I can say is that it comes to a point when you just don’t have the numbers,” Coughlin coach Ciro Cinti said. “Our kids played hard to the end. When you are down numbers, and four or five kids get hurt, we are just scrambling. Valley West outmanned us in the second half. That is the bottom line.”
Valley West entered the weekend as the No. 2 seed in the Class 5A District 2-11 subregional rankings. The Spartans were 1-5 last year entering Week 7 and managed to fight back and win the district title. Keating is hoping for the same type of scenario going forward this year.
“We said last week after losing, that even though we are 3-3, we are in a lot better shape than we were a year ago,” Keating said. “We just have to stay positive and optimistic. Nothing is going to be handed to us. We have to earn it.”
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