HS FOOTBALL: Senior Running Back, Backup Quarterback Spark Pittston Area In 2nd Half
WILKES-BARRE — Coughlin changed its quarterback out of necessity. Pittston Area changed its own to provide a spark.
Even though the battle between the backup quarterbacks proved to give each team a lift, it was Pittston Area’s overall running game that proved to be the difference.
Jordan O’Boyle scored a pair of second half touchdowns, with the second one putting the game out of reach as the Patriots fought back from a halftime deficit to defeated Coughlin, 25-14, Saturday night at Wilkes-Barre Memorial Stadium.
With the win, Pittston Area imrpoved to 3-2 on the year. Coughlin fell to 0-5.
“The worst thing we did was knock the quarterback out,” Pittston Area coach Nick Barbieri said. “They went to that (different offensive scheme) and we were all off balance. It was just something we were not prepared for. We needed to widen out because they were attacking the edge.”
Barbieri was referring to the second play of the game when Coughlin quarterback Garrett Wardle took a hard hit on an incomplete pass. That left the Crusaders needing to insert backup Sa’id Hollis into the game. Hollis was seeing his first action of the year after being out with an injury.
After a few practice snaps on the sideline, Hollis entered the game and led the Crusaders on a pair of second-quarter touchdown drives, both of which he punctuated. He scored from the 2-yard line to give Coughlin a 7-6 lead, after the Patriots went on top first after Andrew Krawcyzk hauled in a 61-yard touchdown pass from Mike Nocito in the first quarter.
Coughlin added a score as time expired in the first half when Hollis scored on a keeper from the 1-yard line. The score was set up after Coughlin recovered a fumble at the Pittston Area 17 with 22.8 seconds left in the second quarter.
That’s when Barbieri decided to make a quarterback change of his own.
“Instead of taking a sack with 30 seconds left, we try to do something and fumble the ball,” Barbieri said. “We give them a score right before the half. We made a change to get a little bit of a spark. I told the kids at the half, we are going to run the football. It is high school football, you have to run the ball.”
While Hollis gave the Crusaders a boost with his ability to run the ball, Barbieri brought on Alex Anastasi who can pretty much do the same.
Anastasi picked up 16 yards on the ground on his first series of the second half. On Pittston Area’s second drive, O’Boyle took over and scored on a 23-yard run to bring the Patriots within 14-12. Anastasi then scored the go-ahead touchdown with 7:33 left in the game on a 1-yard keeper up the middle.
“We didn’t stop them in the second half,” Coughlin coach Ciro Cinti said. “I thought our kids played hard. We have 20 strong and we have five games left.”
Anastasi finished the game with 36 yards rushing and completed two passes for 45 yards. One of those completions, a 37-yard pass play to Krawczyk, helped set up Anastasi’s touchdown that put the Patriots up to stay.
“We ran a lot of counters the last few weeks and if something is off on the counter, (Anastasi) gives us that look and we use that to our advantage,” Barbieri said. “I thought he did a great job. He was a spark, not just running the game. He threw some good balls under pressure. I thought he did a great job.”
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