H.S. Football: Wilkes-Barre Area wins inaugural game at new stadium

·4 min read

Sep. 10—PLAINS — The message to the Wilkes-Barre Area Wolfpack before their first game at their new stadium Friday night was straightforward.

"Came into this game and Coach said just write your own history," WBA running back Mekhi Nelson said. "I feel like I wrote my own history today."

Nelson certainly did, with help from co-author Naquan Johnson.

Johnson scored the first touchdown at the stadium on the campus of the new high school, Nelson ran for 202 yards and three touchdowns and the defense was stout in a 34-7 victory over Wallenpaupack in a non-conference game.

Johnson's score came 63 seconds into the game. Nelson took a lateral pass from quarterback Jake Howe and then hit Johnson with a short pass. The junior tight end headed down the left sideline on the way to a 75-yard score.

"I saw the touchdown and said I'm just going to get through it," Johnson said. "No matter how many people try to tackle me, I'm going to get to that end zone. I was on a mission."

Nelson followed midway through the second quarter with a 96-yard touchdown run, the longest scoring run in the program's four-year history. He picked up a downfield block from receiver Gabe Saracino and then eliminated the last defender with a devastating straight arm.

"I had very amazing blocks," Nelson said. "Everyone just blocked and set me up in a great position to score at touchdown. Everything after that was just history."

History repeated itself — albeit in a shorter version — when Nelson scored on a 23-yard run to give the Wolfpack a 21-0 at halftime.

Wallenpaupack had an opportunity to score in the second quarter when it took over at the WBA 12-yard line after Wolfpack punter Evan Corcoran had the scramble after a heavy rush and lost 27 yards. Johnson, though, came up big on a fourth-and-3 from the 5, chasing Wallenpaupack receiver Mike Passenti deep into the backfield on a reverse to allow his teammates to stop him 2 yards short.

The Buckhorns ran the first 13 plays from scrimmage in the third quarter thanks to a fumbled punt by WBA. They capped the drive with a 12-yard touchdown pass from Drew Kiesendahl to Jake Hobert on a fourth-and-6 play to cut the deficit to 21-7.

The Wolfpack pulled away with fourth-quarter touchdown runs on 3 yards by Nelson and 17 yards by freshman reserve Davon Underwood.

Nelson's third TD started an exodus from the home bleachers, which were nearly filled to capacity.

The night was a success except for some special team issues. Two punt returns were fumbled and Corcoran, a soccer player, had to make a touchdown-saving tackle on a kick return.

"I thought overall we did well. We did much better than the first two games," WBA coach Ciro Cinti said. "We were consistent for four quarters. We definitely have to shore up thing because we have one of the toughest teams (Hazleton Area) in this half of the state to play next week. We got to straighten a lot of things out to even compete next week."

Wilkes-Barre Area 34, Wallenpaupack 7

Wallenpaupack'0'0'7'0 — 7

Wilkes-Barre Area'7'14'0'13 — 34

First quarter

WBA — Naquan Johnson 75 pass from Mekhi Nelson (Evan Corcoran kick), 10:57

Second quarter

WBA — Nelson 96 run (Corcoran kick), 6:36

WBA — Nelson 23 run (Corcoran kick), 3:01

Third quarter

WAL — Jake Holbert 12 pass from Drew Kiesendahl (Brady Reynolds kick), 4:25

Fourth quarter

WBA — Nelson 3 run (Corcoran kick), 11:13

WBA — Davon Underwood 17 run (kick failed), 1:58

Team statistics'WAL'WBA

First downs'9'12

Rushes-yards'35-64'36-264

Passing yards'92'115

Total yards'156'379

Passing'7-21-0'4-9-0

Sacked-yards lost'5-31'0-0

Punts-avg.'5-26.8'4-35.8

Fumbles-lost'1-0'6-2

Penalties-yards'8-75'6-45

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING — Wallenpaupack, Dylan Podrazil 7-36, Mark Nilson 12-22, Kiesendahl 7-1, Mike Passenti 1-1, Anthony Matrucci 5-18, Frank Church 2-(minus-8), team 1-(minus-6). WBA, Nelson 19-202, Howie Shiner 5-10. Jake Howe 1-3, Javant McClary 3-39, Lawrence Allen 1-(minus-3), Underwood 3-46, Trustin Johnson 1-1, Hassan Howard 1-(minus-1), Corcoran 1-(minus-27), team 1-(minus-6).

PASSING — Wallenpaupack, Kiesendahl 7-20-0-92, Podrazil 0-1-0-0. WBA, Howe 3-8-0-40, Nelson 1-1-0-75.

RECEIVING — Wallenpaupack, Aiden Pierson 1-4, Holbert 4-17, Jordan Santiago 1-28, Nilson 1-3. WBA, Johnson 2-107, McClary 2-8.

INTERCEPTIONS — none.

MISSED FGs — none.