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HS FOOTBALL: Hazleton Area At Scranton

October 13, 2018
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HS FOOTBALL: Hazleton Area At Scranton

MOOSIC — Jacob Hunsinger scored touchdowns three different ways, Sparky Wolk threw for a pair of scores, and Hazleton Area snapped a two-game slide Friday night with a 38-14 victory over Scranton at PNC Field. It was a big shot in the arm for a Cougar team that had just one win since opening night. “It was a huge win for us coming off a couple of losses,” Hunsinger said. “Playing up here at PNC Field is a great environment and we all really enjoyed it.” Playing for the first time at the home of the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders baseball team, both Scranton and Hazleton Area hit the equivalent of home runs in the game’s first 29 seconds as fans were still settling into their seats. On the first offensive play from scrimmage, Scranton running back Rodo Brown took a direct snap and swept around left end, sprinting down the sideline for a 65-yard touchdown run that spotted the Knights a 7-0 lead just 17 seconds into the game. Hunsinger answered back on the ensuing play, taking Marco Guerrero’s kickoff at the 17 and returning it all 83 yards for the Cougars’ score. Wil Garcia kicked the first of his five PATs, making it 7-7. “The quick answer by Jacob in the kickoff return was really huge,” said Cougars’ head coach Mike Brennan. “Jacob was lights-out. He’s having an all-state caliber season.” “The ball just came to me, and my teammates just made great blocks up the middle. That’s where the return was to this week,” Hunsinger explained. “I just saw the hole and hit it as fast as I could.” After Hazleton Area forced a Scranton punt, the Cougars needed just two plays to return to the end zone. On second-and-three, Wolk threw a quick slant to Nolan Schneider, who spun out of a tackle and went 64 yards for his first touchdown of the season, and a 14-7 lead. On Scranton’s next play from scrimmage, Wolk recovered a fumble at the Knights’ 43 to set up the Cougars’ next score. On second down, Wolk’s play-action fake left Hunsinger wide open down the home sideline. Wolk hit him in stride, and Hunsinger pulled in the 34-yard pass for his second touchdown of the night and a 21-7 Cougar advantage with 6:08 still to play in the opening quarter. Later, Dallas Solomon intercepted a Scranton pass and returned it 40 yards to the Knights’ 30, setting the stage for Garcia’s 36-yard field goal and a 24-7 lead by quarter’s end. While neither team scored in the second quarter, Scranton started the third-quarter fireworks early when Caleb Sherman took a handoff up the middle, broke outside and finished off an 85-yard touchdown run that pulled the Knights back within 10 (24-14) with 7:14 left in the third. It took just two huge running plays for the Cougars to regain the momentum. After Lance Johnson moved the chains with a 21-yard pickup, Solomon broke loose on a 39-yard touchdown run -- his longest run of the season and his first score -- to push the lead to 31-14. Hunsinger wrapped up his big night and the Cougars’ scoring late in the fourth, scooping up a fumbled lateral and returning it 24 yards to paydirt, completing the 38-14 rout and putting the Cougars (3-5) back in the win column once again. “A lot of guys made some big plays tonight,” Brennan said. “It was a good, solid all-around win, no doubt.” Wolk completed 14-of-24 passes for 208 yards, including five to Hunsinger and four to Schneider. Johnson rushed 16 times for 85 yards, both career-bests, and Solomon added a career-high 50 yards on five carries Horton, the Cougars’ leading rusher on the season, returned after missing last week’s game, but was limited to three first-half carries before being shut down for the night with the game in hand. The Cougars lost starting WR/CB David Smith and starting center Michael Fuchick to injury during the game. Brown led Scranton (1-7) with 130 yards on 11 carries. The Cougars are back on the road next week, paying a visit to Coughlin. Scranton is at Valley View.

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