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Duda, Falcons win Valley of the Sun Bowl on final play

Former Arizona Cardinals defensive lineman and Plymouth native Mark Duda enjoyed a triumphant return to his NFL home, as his Lackawanna College Falcons rallied for a 17-16 victory over Glendale Community College Saturday in the 26th annual Valley of the Sun Bowl in Glendale, Ariz.

Lackawanna (10-0), the 9th-ranked team in the National Junior College Athletic Association poll, trailed 5th-ranked Glendale 16-14 with under 30 seconds to play. But when quarterback A.J. McKenna – a Scranton High School product – launched a 56-yard completion to wide receiver Justin Brown to the Gauchos’ 25 with three seconds left, the Falcons had life.

Placekicker Brett Arnold then calmly booted a 41-yard field goal as time expired to give Lackawanna its first bowl victory.

Glendale (9-2) was the defending junior college national champions.

“This says something about the quality of players we have and the character of this football team,” Duda said by phone after the game. “I’m so proud of these kids. They played their hearts out against a great opponent in a tough environment.

“We never quit. That’s been our M.O. all season.”

A standout at Wyoming Valley West and the University of Maryland, Duda earned his 100th victory as coach of the Falcons on Saturday. He’s lost just 38 games in 14 seasons and has sent more than 150 players to Division I schools on scholarships.

“This isn’t about me, it’s about our players,” he said. “I’m just so happy for them. No one has given these guys or this program the respect we deserve. Maybe things will change now.”

Running back Christopher Griggs was named Lackawanna’s MVP for the game.

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