September 8, 2018

WILKES-BARRE — Joe Curcio could sense it when the horn sounded to signal halftime. With his Hanover Area team ahead by just a point, the running back looked over and saw GAR players going back to the locker room with their heads down. That’s when he knew there was no way his team was losing Friday night’s game at Wilkes-Barre Memorial Stadium. “Our heads were up,” Curcio said. “We were just in it. That’s what got us the push to get this huge win.” Curcio led a powerful ground attack with 153 rushing yards and two touchdowns, and the Hawkeyes took advantage amid a plethora of GAR penalties and mistakes to hold on for a 21-13 victory that set off a wild celebration along the Hanover Area bench. The team had been holding in that jubilation since its last victory, which had been 18 games ago against Lake-Lehman in 2016. “This week, we decided we had to get back to fundamentals,” Hanover Area head coach Mike McCree said. “On defense, and I’m not kidding, all we did was tackle, get off blocks and pursuit. “It took all of the 28 guys that were here today to get this W.” The teams traded touchdowns early in the first quarter, but the Hawkeyes defense put any thoughts of a shootout to rest as the game progressed. After James McCabe scored to give Hanover Area (1-2) a 14-13 halftime edge, GAR mustered only 17 yards on its next three drives. The last ended with a McCabe interception. Curcio added to the lead midway through the third quarter with his second touchdown, from 11 yards out, and the Grenadiers (1-2) never threatened to erase the 8-point edge. They even started one drive with first and goal at Hanover Area’s 7-yard line after a botched Hawkeye punt attempt. But after two rushes went for little gain, a bad snap on third down sent the Grenadiers 12 yards in reverse. What little momentum GAR could put together was continuously halted by penalties. The Grenadiers committed seven 15-yard infractions, including a blindside block that erased a 63-yard punt return by Justice Lomas in the first quarter. And with the Hawkeyes dominating up front, Curcio and fellow back Cam Holeman helped preserve the win with a number of powerful runs in the fourth quarter. Two bad snaps aside, Hanover Area rushed for 232 yards and the three touchdowns. “I just think we dominated physically today,” McCree said. “We feel we can get back into this race. Eight teams get into the playoffs, and we want to be one of them this year.” Contact the writer: tpiccotti@citizensvoice.com; 570-821-2089; @CVPiccotti on Twitter

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