WEST PITTSTON — Dallas’ Christian Motley is often the shortest player on the field on Friday nights. But he often plays like the smartest as well.
So when Wyoming Area’s best receiver went in motion on a two-point conversion try in overtime, the 5-foot-5 junior knew what was coming.
More importantly, he stopped it.
Motley broke up the two-point pass as Dallas held on for a 21-20 overtime victory in a Wyoming Valley Conference Division 4A game.
Dallas improved to 6-2 with its second consecutive one-point victory. Wyoming Area fell to 3-5, losing for a fourth time by three points or less.
Dallas got the first crack to snap the 14-14 tie and found the end zone on its second play. Fullback Bradley Adams slipped out of the backfield and quarterback Mike Starbuck tossed a 7-yard TD pass to him a split second before being hammered by Wyoming Area defensive end Cameron Carr.
David Schuster, pressed into kicking duties with Nate Maransky hurt, converted the extra point for a 21-14 lead.
Wyoming Area then used three rushes, the final a 1-yard plunge by Donovan O’Boyle, to move within 21-20. The Warriors decided to go for two points. Receiver Marc Minichello went in motion right — to Motley’s side of the field — and quarterback Dominic DeLuca rolled that way.
With a defensive lineman on his heels, DeLuca had no option other than to force the ball to Minichello. Motley had him blanketed and the throw had no chance of success.
“I saw Minichello come in motion and go to the flat,” Motley said. “I knew he’s their number one guy and the play is most likely going to him.”
The decision to go for a two-point conversion came down to several factors.
“(Kicker) F.J. (Braccini) was available but hurt a little bit,” Wyoming Area coach Randy Spencer said. “Again, we’re at home and with the momentum. We thought we’d get the look we wanted with play. We got it, we just didn’t get it.”
The outcome was the reversal of last year’s District 2 Class 4A quarterfinal game where Wyoming Area stopped a Dallas two-point try with 19.6 seconds left for a 13-12 victory.
Motley also had an interception — his fifth of the season — in the third quarter and one play after Wyoming Area had a 21-yard TD run by O’Boyle wiped out by a holding penalty.
“He might be the shortest guy out there,” Dallas coach Rich Mannello said, “but he’s one of the toughest and one of the toughest-minded kids that I’ve seen.”
Dallas took a 14-0 lead thanks to two long runs by Starbuck. The first covered 50 yards on the game’s fifth play of the game. The other went 60 yards and set up running back Danny Meuser for a score from the 2-yard line. Starbuck had 135 yards rushing at halftime, but finished with 109 as the Warriors ended the bursts up the gut.
After that, the Mountaineers drove to the Wyoming Area 32, 27 and 25 yard line only to come up empty.
“That’s three times inside the 30 without points, and you can’t have that,” Mannello said.
Wyoming Area came back to move within 14-7 by halftime. DeLuca used a series of short to medium throws to move the Warriors down the field before hitting Steve Yordy for a 32-yard gain down the left sideline. Yordy tightroped the sideline before stepping out at the Dallas 1.
Two plays later, DeLuca threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to Shane Eslick, who was wide open in the right part of the end zone.
DeLuca and Yordy hooked up on a 20-yard TD pass early in the fourth, as Wyoming Area tied the score 14-14.