Spataro, defense power Chiefs
SCOTT TWP. — After losses in two of their last four games, Lakeland wanted to use Friday night’s battle with Nanticoke as a springboard to the homestretch, a chance to show they could get back to the physical style of play that got it rolling to a 3-0 start.
Behind a stifling defense and a relentless running game, they accomplished that mission.
Giovanni Spataro rushed for three touchdowns, and the No. 10 Chiefs held the Trojans to just 2.8 yards per carry on the way to a convincing, 30-0 win Friday night.
“We’ve been kind of flat the last couple weeks, so we really, really needed a good win,” senior defensive tackle Jonathon Naniewicz said. “We really needed to shut these guys out.
“The two losses really shook us up a bit, because we were expected to win, and we wanted to win really bad. We didn’t know if we’d be able to bounce back, but we found the energy in practice this week.”
Lakeland (6-2) left little doubt the rebound was possible early. Spataro broke open a long run on the game’s first snap, gaining 39 yards over the right side to set up his 6-yard touchdown run just 1:26 into the game. The Chiefs would find the end zone on each of their first three possessions — a 1-yard plunge by Spataro leading to a 14-0 edge and, later, quarterback C.J. Dippre’s beautifully lofted pass to tight end Colin Walsh for a 23-yard score — building a 20-0 edge less than two minutes into the second quarter.
“Their D-ends, they’re very physical and they like to run up the field a lot,” Spataro said. “(The offensive line) was able to trap them a lot, and it just made for some easy runs upfield.”
While the Chiefs were piling up yards, Nanticoke struggled to get anything going.
Six of its first nine rushes went for negative yardage, and a seventh was stuffed at the line of scrimmage. Trojans running back Joe Ammons wound up rushing for 105 yards, but he had just 17 at halftime, and 58 of that final total came on a pair of runs with the game practically decided in the fourth quarter.
“Honestly, the game plan was to stop the run,” said Naniewicz, who had six tackles and a sack. “They did not like to run the ball up the middle at all, and it was mostly outside stuff. We knew the D-ends and the outside linebackers had a big task tonight, and they did great.”
Now, the Trojans are the team looking for a rebound after suffering their second consecutive shutout loss, with a playoff spot and a chance to finish .500 still hanging in the balance.
“It seemed like the Trojans didn’t come to play football tonight,” Nanticoke head coach Ron Bruza said. “It’s tough. We’re solid. We’re young. We have some key injuries right now, which is no excuse. But we have to put it together.” Contact the writer: firstname.lastname@example.org; 570-348-9125; @Donniecollinstt on Twitter