Jul. 22—Robert Romanowski looked exhausted.
The Lakeland graduate and left defensive end for the County all-stars kept rushing and chasing West Scranton and City quarterback Cayden Merrifield, but just couldn't corral him.
Except for one very important play.
As the City tried to rally in the fourth quarter, Merrifield did another one of his Harry Houdini impressions and scrambled free from oncoming pass rushers. Only this time, Romanowski, who spent three seasons competing in the hurdles on the Lakeland track and field team, just hurried him enough to leave a deep pass short. Mid Valley defensive back Jeremiah Wolo and Old Forge corner Michael DiGregorio converged and tapped the ball away, halting a threat.
Throughout the game, Romanowski, and Lakeland teammate Cross Douglas, and Valley View linemen Pat Murphy and Matt Smith kept collapsing the pocket and to their credit did force the City passing game off its timing just enough in a wild 31-29 County win over the City on Wednesday night at John Henzes/Veterans Memorial Stadium.
"He is fast," Romanowski said of Merrifield. "He's shifty and making cuts all over the place. At one point, I just broke down trying to keep him inside. It was all I could do.
"It's so great to get a win in a game like this."
In the game, Smith collected a sack of Scranton Prep quarterback Paddy Grady on a play where Romanowski made the first rush. Lakeland's Giovanni Spataro also had a sack of Wallenpaupack quarterback Alex Gardsy and Western Wayne's Zane Janiszewski created an intentional grounding call on Merrifield in the fourth quarter to highlight the County defensive effort.
----West Scranton defensive back Moet Wellington had an interception to highlight the City defensive effort. Scranton linebacker Devin Chollette, who also had a tackle for loss, had a fumble recovery, Wallenpaupack's Liam Smith and Gardsy each had a forced fumble and Scranton linebacker Mychal Slavinski had a tackle for loss.
Douglas and Western Wayne's Adam Silfies each had a tackle for loss and Delaware Valley's Mark Callanan returned an interception for a touchdown. Delaware Valley defensive back Preston Machado had six total tackles in the first half. Spataro had three tackles, but had to leave the game in the third quarter with an injury.
----Scranton Prep receiver Ryan McAndrew helped kick-start the City offense in the first half.
Also a track standout, he caught two passes for 32 yards which included the game's first touchdown on a 28-yard reception with 8:22 in the first quarter. He also added a key 24-yard reception on a first-and-22 from the City 6 that allowed the City to continue a scoring drive that closed the deficit to 25-22 with 10:51 to play in the fourth quarter.
It was an outstanding performance from a graduate who did not catch a pass in 2020.
----Lackawanna Trail running back Ray Melnikoff paced the City ground game.
He had 47 yards rushing on 12 carries. In the first half, he had a 21-yard run and added a 13-yard burst in the second quarter.
Janiszewski ran for 152 yards and had runs of 14, 22, 21 and 11 yards.
Contact the writer:
@sportsTT on Twitter