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HS FOOTBALL: No. 6 North Pocono At West Scranton

August 25, 2018

SCRANTON — They stopped the run, got after the quarterback and cleared paths for their own backs to dart through. West Scranton’s success along the line of scrimmage Friday night against North Pocono didn’t surprise junior lineman Fushawn Liggins. “Every day in practice, every single lineman worked their butt off every single day,” Liggins said. “Every single day. ... Every single practice. And it turns out, you practice good, you’re going to play good.” So far, so good. The Invaders dominated in the trenches, Quincy Vassell sparked the offense and West Scranton blanked No. 6 North Pocono, 27-0, in a Lackawanna Football Conference game at Memorial Stadium. “Coach said we’re underdogs and we’re going to keep on being underdogs throughout the 10-game season,” Liggins said. “We’re going to keep on going. We’re never going to stop. We’re going to keep on going up front. Up front, everybody doubted us, but we’re solid up front. We’re definitely solid up front.” Each team punted after its first two drives, then West Scranton’s defensive line grabbed the momentum by standing up North Pocono quarterback Donny Blaine on a fourth-and1 at midfield. On the next play, Vassell hauled in a 39-yard jump ball from West quarterback Nick Gioia, then the duo connected again on third-and-goal for a 4-yard touchdown with 2:37 to play in the first quarter. “That (first catch) played a big momentum (shift) for us,” Vassell said. “It got us going. It got us hyped.” West Scranton forced another turnover on downs with 3:24 to play in the first half, then the offensive line — which played most of the game without starting tackle Guillermo Gomez, who was trying to shake a hamstring injury — cleared out plenty of room in the middle on third-and-14 for Mason Spano to sprint 45 yards for a score and a 13-0 lead with under a minute to play. “We knew that they were very good up front, but we felt pretty good about our kids up front,” West Scranton coach Brian Fahey said. “In the weight room in January and February and March, a lot of our front four and our front five came together and put the time in. And I’m so glad that they can see that it pays off.” Vassell helped put the game away on the second play of the third quarter with a highlight-reel display of his speed. He took a jet sweep to the left, but couldn’t find an opening, so he reversed field. “I cut back and there was nothing but green space,” Vassell said. “I took it right to the end zone.” Vassell turned the corner and outran the North Pocono defense, racing 59 yards for a touchdown an a 20-0 lead. “Felt great,” Vassell said. “A big energy boost for us. Really gave us momentum. Really closed the game out.” Jalen Gregory hauled in Gioia’s fade in the end zone for a touchdown with 7:30 left in the game, capping a long drive that saw running back Kevin Williams pick up first downs on three straight plays. Williams finished with 106 yards rushing. “You’ve got to give a lot of credit to West,” North Pocono coach Greg Dolhon said. “They’re physical and they have a lot of athletes. “I think they have a really good football team and Brian’s been doing a great job with that program and you see that tonight.” West Scranton claimed its first shutout since a 19-0 win over Wallenpaupack on Oct. 16, 2015. The Invaders also snapped North Pocono’s four-game, opening day winning streak.

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