Wyoming Area’s late rally stuns Central Valley in PIAA championship

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Saturday, December 7, 2019 | 3:07 PM


HERSHEY — Momentum might be a myth to some, but Central Valley believes in it wholeheartedly.

“One hundred percent, yes,” senior Reed FitzSimmons said with no hesitation. “You saw it right out there.”

Wyoming Area’s offense was stagnant and scoreless for three quarters but scored touchdowns on three consecutive fourth-quarter drives to stun Central Valley, 21-14, in the PIAA Class 3A championship Saturday at Hersheypark Stadium.

Momentum shifted on an 80-yard touchdown pass from an injured quarterback to the wrong receiver, and Central Valley never got it back.

“They got the slightest bit of momentum, and they ran with it,” FitzSimmons said. “I can’t blame them. That’s what good football teams do.”

Central Valley entered the fourth quarter with a 14-0 lead behind a pair of rushing touchdown by Jaylen Guy and Stephon Hall. Wyoming had managed only 79 yards from scrimmage at that point, but the District 2 champion came to life and scored three times in less than 11 minutes.

The last was a 1-yard touchdown run by Wyoming quarterback Dom DeLuca with 41 seconds left to break a 14-14 tie.

“Up 14-0 going to the fourth quarter, I’m not so sure I’ve got words for it right now,” Central Valley coach Mark Lyons said. “This one is going to hurt for awhile. I know our guys are devastated from it. We played well enough, but it’s a four-quarter game.”

Central Valley (14-2) and Wyoming (14-1) were seeking their first state title. Central Valley lost 33-14 to Archbishop Wood in 2014, but Lyons said this one felt much worse.

“I don’t sleep well at night anyways,” he said. “I’m not so sure I’m going to sleep at all.”

Momentum is impossible to see and hard to describe, but both teams felt it shift.

Wyoming was facing third-and-8 at its 20 less than a minute into the fourth quarter. DeLuca was about to be sacked when he threw a pass over the middle intended for receiver Derek Ambrosino.

Instead, teammate Riley Rusyn snagged the throw and sprinted 80 yards to the end zone.

The touchdown cut Central Valley’s lead to 14-7.

“If there wasn’t such a thing as momentum, I don’t think you would have saw the things you saw today,” Wyoming coach Randy Spencer said. “Momentum. Purpose. Destiny. Whatever you call it, when you’re meant to do certain things, you’re meant to do certain things.”

Lyons tried to regain that momentum with a gutsy fourth-and-2 gamble at midfield with 9 minutes left, but Guy was stopped a yard short. Guy, a senior, rushed for a career-high 166 yards and a touchdown on 30 carries in his final game.

“We rode him today,” Lyons said. “I’m proud of him. I thought we got tough at times and got some tough yards. We needed one more tough yard, I guess, on that fourth-and-2.”

After the failed fourth-down conversion, Wyoming took over at its 47 and gained 53 yards in nine plays. DeLuca threw a game-tying 4-yard touchdown to Ambrosino with 4:02 left.

DeLuca was injured and left limping after a helmet hit his right knee in the third quarter. He missed only one play and completed 10 of 15 attempts for 202 yards and two touchdowns.

“They came out and punched us in the mouth in the first three quarters of that game,” DeLuca said. “We came out in the fourth quarter and played our football.”

Wyoming’s offense had 174 yards in the fourth quarter. Central Valley had 73.

Tied 14-14, Central Valley had a chance for a game-winning drive but the Warriors stalled after four plays. They then kicked an 8-yard punt with 1:43 left. To make matters worse, a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the punt pushed Wyoming back into Central Valley territory.

DeLuca took possession and led Wyoming 42 yards in three plays, the biggest a 39-yard pass to Brian Williams down to the 1-yard line. DeLuca then gave Wyoming its first lead with a 1-yard touchdown run with 41 seconds left.

“They made a couple big plays in the second half and grabbed momentum,” Lyons said. “Momentum is a crazy thing. That’s what it came down to.”

Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Chris by email at charlan@tribweb.com or via Twitter .

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