CLARKS SUMMIT — Wyoming Valley West may have edged Abington Heights on a last second field goal Saturday, Oct. 8, but the Comets may get another crack at the Spartans in an ever more important game down the road.
Jake Gurtis converted a 37-yard field goal to give Valley West a 23-20 win over Abington Heights in a Lackawanna Football Conference/Wyoming Valley Conference crossover game with significant District 2 Class 5A playoff implications.
Wyoming Valley West (5-2) and Abington Heights (4-3) came into the contest tied for the top seed.
The victory gives the Spartans a 150-point lead over the Comets in state playoff points.
All three Class 5A teams, which also includes Wallenpaupack (3-4), make the playoffs with the top seed getting a first-round bye and hosting the championship game.
Abington Heights currently sits 170 points ahead of Wallenpaupack, the team the Comets host this Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m.
“We’re always one day at a time,” Abington Heights head coach Joe Repshis said. “We’re going to come back and prepare for Wallenpaupack and worry about the things we can control. That’s working to improve every day in practice and our effort and attitude.
“That’s always been our approach — one day at a time.”
Abington Heights struck first when quarterback Colin McCreary scored on 59-yard touchdown run with 10:58 left in the first quarter.
Valley West evened the score when running back Sean Judge scored on an 8-yard run with 6:16 remaining in the quarter.
Abington Heights regained the lead when McCreary connected on a 26-yard field goal with 9:11 to play in the second quarter.
Valley West took the lead into halftime after quarterback Aaron Austin scored on a 5-yard run with 2:51 left in the first half.
The only scoring in the third quarter came from two Gurtis field goals, from 22 and 31 yards, which gave Valley West a 20-10 advantage.
McCreary booted a 24-yard field goal, two plays into the fourth quarter, to move the Comets within 20-13.
Then six plays after Tom Rothenberger returned a Valley West punt 27 yards, McCreary threw a 17-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Hardy at the front right pylon of the end zone with 7:03 left in the fourth quarter.
McCreary completed 6 of 12 passes in the game for 83 yards, and rushed for 69 yards on 8 carries.
Tied 20-20, Valley West took possession at the Abington Heights 41-yard line with 2:30 remaining in the game after a punt. Six plays later, the Spartans were at the 20-yard line and called a timeout with 5.4 seconds left.
Gurtis’ game-winning kick barely had enough juice to clear the crossbar, but gave Valley West the upper hand in Class 5A with three weeks remaining in the regular season.
Mathematically, Abington Heights can still catch Valley West for the top seed in D2-5A.
“We’re in a good position right now and control our own destiny,” Wyoming Valley West head coach Pat Keating said, “but we have three quality opponents down the stretch and another huge game next week (against Berwick). We haven’t been able to come up for air all season.”
Robert Tomkavage contributed to this story. Reach John Erzar at 570-991-6394 or on Twitter @TLJohnErzar.