By Tom Robinson, NEPAFootball.com

PECKVILLE – Taheed Jewell’s two fourth-quarter touchdown receptions allowed the County to force the first overtime in the 89-year history of the Scranton Lions Club Dream Game.

The County defense and Riverside’s Nick D’Amico took it from there.

D’Amico’s 27-yard field goal lifted the County to a 23-20 victory on a night when its defense shut out the City in the second half and overtime.

The game, presented by Northeast Rehab, was played before a crowd of 7,246 at Valley View’s John Henzes/Veterans Memorial Stadium.

“I was not losing on my field,” said Jewell, a Valley View graduate, who caught 7 passes for 123 yards.

The City led, 20-7, at halftime. It outgained the County, 221-47, overall in that half and, 211-45, for the game on the ground.

“We went in the locker room and we knew we had to step it up in the second half,” Jewell said. “We knew we had the talent; we just had to put it together as a team.”

The County had yardage advantages of 166-28 total after halftime and 168-38 in passing yards for the game.

The passing game clicked in the fourth quarter with Old Forge’s James Sobol hitting Jewell on a short slant for a 7-yard score in the first minute and Lakeland’s Dominico Spataro finding him for a 39-yard touchdown on third-and-six with 1:13 remaining.

“The line blocked great,” Spataro said of the tying touchdown. “The tackles pushed the D Ends out; the guards and center held up well.

“I just stepped up on the pocket. I saw a great opening where Taheed came loose. He was just running, so I flicked the ball out there to give him a chance to make a play. That’s what he did.”

The County stopped the City’s last possession at the 47, matching the closest the City got in the second half.

The game proceeded to the National Federation 10-Yard-Line, Tiebreaker Rule, something that did not exist when there were four ties early in the charity game’s history.

The City started at the 10, but could only get to the 9 in 3 plays before missing a field goal.

“Defensively, our ends were kind of coming inside,” said Mid Valley’s Stan Yanoski, the County head coach. “They were getting outside of us. At halftime, we made an adjustment.

“ … We had the goal-line stand in overtime and the defense really stepped it up in the second half.”

Along with gaining five yards on its three plays, the County lost five on a third-down, delay-of-game penalty.

Riverside’s Nick D’Amico hits the game-winning field goal in overtime for the County.

That left D’Amico with the 27-yarder, which he hit for the win.

Michael Blaine and Ty LaFave, two of City coach Greg Dolhon’s players at North Pocono, helped the City to the 20-7 halftime lead.

Blaine, the game’s leading rusher with 146 yards on 17 carries, had 120 of those yards and two touchdowns by halftime. He went off left tackle 75 yards for a score on the game’s second play.

A muffed punt by the City led to Spataro’s 1-yard run to force a 7-7 tie by the midway point in the first quarter.

Blaine carried 4 times for 44 yards, including a 14-yard touchdown, on a scoring drive that bridged the first and second quarters.

After D’Amico came up short on a 52-yard field goal attempt, the City added to its lead with an 80-yard scoring drive.

Zach Benzie, a back-up in his career at North Pocono, went the distance as the City quarterback and hit Scranton Prep’s Aidan Colleran with a 33-yard touchdown with 1:35 left in the half.

LaFave was the leading tackler in the first half, including two of the six times that the City threw the County for losses while holding it to negative rushing yards in the first half.

“We just said we were going to get after them,” LaFave said. “We knew they had athletes, so we wanted to stuff the run and we wanted to get after the quarterback.

“We wanted to make them uncomfortable and I think we did a good job of that for most of the game. It didn’t end how we wanted it to, but I’m proud of how we fought.”

Contrary to many all-star games across various sports and levels of competition, the game was intense as players and the crowd reacted to the late shift of momentum.

“It was electric out here,” LaFave said. “Fans were getting into it. Everybody was playing their butts off.

“It had some chipiness, but that’s going to come with the game of football. We were just out here competing and it was fun.”

The win was the fourth straight by the County and tied the series at 42-42-4.

The County team included players from Abington Heights, Carbondale, Delaware Valley, Honesdale and Western Wayne as well as Lakeland, Mid Valley, Old Forge, Riverside and Valley View.

The City featured players from Holy Cross, Dunmore, Lackawanna Trail, Montrose, Scranton, Wallenpaupack and West Scranton along with North Pocono and Scranton Prep.

BY THE NUMBERS

The County finished with a 14-3 lead in first downs, including 9-3 in the second half after the City had a 10-5 edge in the first half.

Spataro was 5-for-12 for 94 yards while Sobol was 5-for-9 for 74 yards.

Jewell and Southerton were the only players on either team to catch more than one pass. Southerton ended up with two receptions for 50 yards.

Scranton’s Jacob Martinez and North Pocono’s LaFave were the game’s leading tacklers. Martinez had seven tackles, including two for losses, along with two assists and a forced fumble. LaFave had six tackles, including two for losses, four assists and a fourth-down pass break-up.

Delaware Valley’s Landon Machado and Scranton Prep’s Mick O’Malley each finished with six tackles and one assist for the City. Machado had two tackles for losses.

Three of the County’s top five defenders were from Honesdale.

Valley View’s A.J. Kucharski and Honesdale’s Max Mickel led the County defense. Kucharski had five tackles, including two for losses, while Mickel had four tackles, three assists and a broken-up pass.

Honesdale’s Rocco Fluck made two tackles for losses and was in on five assists. Teammate Kage Southerton had four tackles, including one for a loss, and an assist.

Carbondale’s Vincent DePalma had four tackles and three assists.