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Warriors withstand rival Patriots’ rally

After dominating the first half, Wyoming Area had to hold on to beat Pittston Area.

Wyoming Area’s Tyler Serbin runs into Pittston Area’s Tom Pisano and Robert Kay.

For the Times Leader/Jonathan J. Juka

YATESVILLE — Tyler Serbin stood alone at the 30-yard line, Falcone Trophy in hand, silently staring at the grass at Charley Trippi Stadium.

This was a long night all around, not just for Wyoming Area’s stellar tailback, who was the difference in the Warriors’ 14-10 win over Pittston Area on Friday night.

The junior rolled up 167 yards and his team’s only two touchdowns to earn the hardware he grasped in his right hand, awarded annually to the MVP of the rivalry game.

The win gave the Warriors a home game in next week’s opening round of the District 2 playoffs, likely against Valley View. The Patriots’ season came to an end with the loss.

It seemed like that reward might come easily in the first half, as Serbin had 124 yards and both scores before halftime to stake Wyoming Area to a 14-0 lead at halftime.

But the entire mood of the game shifted with four minutes before the half, as Pittston’s Tom Pisano collided with Warrior punt returner Christian Bonito before the ball arrived.

Pisano was flagged for the early contact and Bonito laid on the ground for 20 minutes as paramedics immobilized him as a precautionary measure and took him off the field in an ambulance.

“It was very tough,” Serbin said. “People just had their heads down. We just had to come together and make sure we won the game.”

The Warriors (8-2) weren’t the same after the somber scene, but several members of the coaching staff said Bonito was able to move and they were optimistic that no serious injury was suffered.

“From what the medical people were saying, he was moving,” Wyoming Area coach Paul Marranca said. “We just hope he’s OK.”

With Marranca trying to keep his players’ heads in the game during halftime, the Patriots (4-6) took advantage.

The Warriors’ first drive ended in a Serbin fumble, and Steve Stoss blocked a punt on the second one.

Two plays after the block, Craig Champi flung a pass into the left flat to Rob Timek, who scampered 20 yards for a score that energized Pittston.

The Patriots closed to within four on Paul Gattuso’s 27-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter following an interception by Pisano.

“Now all of a sudden, we were in a dogfight,” Marranca said. “You look back at the games we’ve struggled in during the year, and it’s when we turn the ball over like that.”

But Wyoming Area was able to hold on, thanks to some tough yardage late by Serbin, who surpassed 1,000 yards on the year — an especially remarkable feat considering he didn’t take over the feature back role until midway through the season.

The defense was able to hold off a last-gasp drive by the Patriots in the final two minutes, as Champi’s heave into the end zone from 37 yards out fell just out of the reach of his receiver.

But Serbin stole the show.

“He’s emerged as the back now,” Marranca said. “We want to control the football and run at people. That’s Warrior football.”

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