OLD FORGE — Lackawanna Trail got off to a promising start, but three plays quickly shifted the momentum the other way.
The Lions struck first when Jeffrey Resto scored on a powerful, 6-yard touchdown run after Noah Coleman returned a punt to the Old Forge 23-yard line. Nate Rolka’s extra point gave Trail a 7-0 lead with 2:51 left in the first quarter.
Then, the Blue Devils took control.
Old Forge (10-1) scored 16 points in less than a minute and defeated Lackawanna Trail, 29-22, in the District 2 Class A football championship game Nov. 3.
Tyler Carey returned the ensuing kickoff 91 yards for a touchdown to start Old Forge’s charge.
“Tommy (Souriyavong) made a really good block. I saw a wide open hole and I just went for it,” Carey said.
Brendan Mozeleski powered into the end zone for the two-point conversion.
Souriyavong also made an impact on defense by intercepting a pass from Rolka on the first play of Trail’s next possession.
Quarterback Dante Lucarelli, who completed 10 of 14 passes for 182 yards, connected with Carey for a 47-yard touchdown on the first play of the following drive.
Anthony Rios hauled in a pass from Lucarelli for the two-point conversion and Old Forge led 16-7 with 2:12 left in the first quarter.
“We went down and scored, and we were feeling pretty good about things, and then we give up that kickoff return,” Lackawanna Trail head coach Steve Jervis said. “In these kind of games, it comes down to a couple critical plays that they made and we didn’t.”
Lackawanna Trail (8-3) cut its deficit back to two points after a 2-yard touchdown run from Resto with 4:14 left in the second quarter. A 60-yard run from Owen Hivner set up the score.
Lucarelli found Brett Wargo for an 18-yard touchdown to put the Blue Devils back up by nine points, after Nick Krenitsky’s extra point, with 1:26 left before halftime.
“I really had a lot of time in the pocket because the guys up front did a great job,” Lucarelli said. “I knew if I got the ball to my receivers, they would make the plays.”
Lackawanna Trail moved the ball to the Old Forge 15-yard line, courtesy of a 38-yard run from Cody Moyle, to start the second half but a fumble by Resto ended the Lions’ threat.
Lucarelli hit Rios for a 30-yard touchdown down the seam to stretch Old Forge’s lead to 29-14 with 10:15 left in the fourth quarter.
The Lions continued to battle until the final minute.
Rolka broke through a hole in the Blue Devils defense for a 23-yard touchdown with 30 seconds left in the game. Resto ran in for the 2-point conversion to bring the Lions back within seven.
“That’s just how we’re taught to play the game,” Rolka said. “You can’t give up or show any kind of weakness. We were losing, but we had to lay it all on the field.”
Colin Holzman recovered the Lions’ onside kick attempt to seal Old Forge’s win.
Reach Robert Tomkavage at 570-704-3941 or on Twitter @rtomkavage.