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Greg Schantz (32) and Ben Fish (14) tackle Wellsboro's Dontae Williams during Wyalusing Valley's 7-6 victory on Sept. 10.
In Wyalusing Valley's glory days, the Rams won games with stingy defense and a relentless ground game.
Last Friday, the Rams brought back memories with a heartstopping 7-6 victory at Wellsboro.
Greg Schantz's 38-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter gave the Wyalusing defense all the lead it needed to seal the victory—the second in a row to begin the season.
Wyalusing's defense held Wellsboro to just 60 rushing yards.
Although Wellsboro quarterback Pat Coolidge threw for 184 yards, including a 76-yard scoring strike to Shawn Tom late in the first quarter, Wyalusing made his life miserable with five interceptions and four sacks.
Branden Johnson, David Phillippe, Julio Torres and Mike Wilson each recorded sacks for the Rams. The constant pressure on Coolidge forced him into ill-advised throws.
Zach Reinhart led an opportunistic secondary with three interceptions. Jared Johnson and Ben Fish had the other thefts.
Tim Millard added a fumble recovery.
"We got pressure when we needed it," Wyalusing coach Gary Otis said. "Coach (Dave) Behrend did an excellent job on defense. He had these kids prepared. They knew it was coming and just got the job done."
Three times, the defense turned back Wellsboro drives inside the Wyalusing 20, including a brilliant goal-line stand midway through the second quarter.
"The defense just rose to the occasion," Otis said.
It was tested early and often.
A Wellsboro fumble recovery at the Wyalusing 30 on the Rams' first possession was turned back when Fish picked off a Coolidge pass at the Ram 8.
With 1:17 to play in the first quarter, Coolidge found Tom wide open down the left sideline for the Hornets' only score of the night.
The extra-point kick just missed to the left.
Early in the second quarter, Wellsboro took over at its own 29. Deftly mixing the run and pass, the Hornets drove to a first down at the Ram 4.
Millard threw Dontae Williams for a two-yard loss on first down. After an incompletion, Fish tackled Tom Jesse at the 6 on third down. Fish batted away a fourth down pass to finish the goal-line stand.
Wyalusing's offense, however, couldn't get untracked in the first half as a veteran Wellsboro defensive front overwhelmed Wyalusing's young offensive line.
Schantz was the only bright spot, gaining 52 yards on the ground and 14 receiving.
Fish completed just that one pass to Schantz the entire night as Wellsboro's pass rush forced him into quick throws.
Three of the Rams' four turnovers were committed in the first half.
Wellsboro opened the second half with an impressive drive that carried to the Wyalusing 12 before Millard pounced on a Coolidge fumble to halt the threat.
Later in the period, Reinhart's second interception of the night gave Wyalusing the ball on their 44.
Four plays later, Schantz broke free off right tackle and galloped into the end zone.
Jason Naugle's extra-point kick gave the Rams a 7-6 lead with 1:58 left in the period.
"In the second half, our goal was to pound it out," Otis explained. "We knew if we kept pounding it out, sooner or later we had a chance of breaking one. Greg broke the big one that we needed."
Unable to run the ball, Wellsboro tried to go to the air.
Jared Johnson intercepted a pass on the Hornets' ensuing possession, and Reinhart had his third theft early in the fourth period.
Wyalusing forced a Wellsboro punt with 4:31 to play in the game.
With the ball at their own 16, the Rams needed to mount a time-consuming driver.
They did just that.
Eight straight carries by Schantz gave the Rams three first downs, milked Wellsboro of its timeouts and enabled Wyalusing to run out the clock.
Schantz finished the night with 148 hard-won yards on 27 carries. Eric Brigham added 28 yards.
"What a ballgame," an excited Otis said afterward. "I can't say enough about this team right now.
"We told them at halftime