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Upset minded Patriots fall short

Pittston Area gives up late lead in 21-14 loss to Dallas

Above, Pittston Area Jordan Houseman wrestles away a touchdown reception from a Dallas defender during the Patriots 21-14. Below, Patriots freshman Kyle Gattuso (12) hurdles two defenders on the opening kickoff.

photos by tony callaio

After suffering their first loss of the season last Friday night at Crestwood, Pittston Area’s defense took the field yesterday afternoon with a chip on it’s shoulder.

But Despite playing well defensively, the Patriots came up just short against the undefeated Dallas Mountaineers by a score of 21-14 on Homecoming Weekend at Charley Trippi Stadium in Yatesville.

The Patriots shocked the Mountaineers with a 96-yard drive spanning across two quarters.

They took over on their own 6-yard line with 2:59 remaining in the first quarter after a booming Dallas punt, and capped the drive with 8:57 remaining in the first half, when senior quarterback Anthony Schwab connected with his most dangerous receiver, Jordan Houseman, for a 20-yard touchdown capping the drive. Chris Musto remained perfect on PATs this season and the Patriots lead was 7-0.

Pittston Area used a balanced attack throughout the drive. Big passing plays by Schwab and hard-nosed running by Marc Romanczuk, Justin Wilk, and Kyle Gattuso gave the Patriots six first downs on the drive.

“They’re capable of doing that all the time,” PA Head Coach Mike Barrett said of the opening drive. “We are trying to get them convinced that not one guy can take one play off. Every single guy has got to come on hard every play.”

Dallas responded quickly, tying the game at 7-7 after just six plays from scrimmage.

The drive concluded with a 5-yard touchdown run by Mountaineers fullback Keifer Rogers. Aaron Napkora added the PAT with 6:24 remaining in the first half.

Both teams had trouble moving the ball on their remaining first-half drives. However, Dallas got it together when they took over from their own 49 with 56 seconds remaining in the first half. Two solid rushes and an 11-yard pass play from quarterback Ryan Zapoticky set up a first down from the Patriots 25 with just seconds remaining.

The Patriots secondary wouldn’t allow the Mountaineers to take the lead into the locker room as Mike Stankoski and Tyler Roman came up with huge plays defensively setting up fourth-and-3 from the 22 with time for one play.

Zapoticky then threw an incomplete pass, but laundry from the referee allowed the Mountaineers to have one more untimed play. The first-year Dallas signal-caller had a receiver open in the end zone, but Houseman came flying in, swatting the ball away to keep the game deadlocked headed into halftime.

Dallas threatened to take the lead early in the third quarter. But with less than eight minutes remaining, the Patriots defense stopped the Mountaineers for three consecutive plays setting up fourth-and-3 from the PA 38-yard line. The Mountaineers opted to go for it on fourth down, but Joe Harth sacked Zapoticky , and Patriots took over on downs.

Later in the quarter, the Mountaineers found themselves with third-and-5 on their own 45-yard line. Zapoticky dropped back and let the ball fly, but Tyler Roman picked off his pass before it even got close to its intended receiver. Roman ran back the interception 22 yards and the Patriots took over first-and-10 from the Dallas 25.

Pittston Area cashed made the Zapoticky pick hurt when Wilk broke loose for a 13-yard touchdown. Musto again added the PAT and the Patriots lead was 14-7 with 10:47 remaining in the game.

“When you see blood, you have to go for the knockout blow,” Barrett said. “I don’t think we went for the blow.”

The Mountaineers answered by marching down the field to tie.

With 4:32 remaining in the game, Zapoticky connected with Don Behm for a 7-yard touchdown. Napkora converted the PAT, and the game was tied 14-14.

The Dallas defense stymied the Patriots offense for the remainder of the game, while its offense responded by taking the 21-14 lead on yet another touchdown pass form Zapoticky. A Zapoticky to Jason Simonovitch 31-yard touchdown was all the Mountaineers would need as the Patriots failed to get any closer in the contest.

Schwab played well in a losing effort for the Patriots, with a 7-for-11 night for 72 yards and a touchdown. Joe Starinsky led the Patriots in receptions with four for 38 yards while Romanczuk was the leading rusher with 53 yards on 14 carries.

Joe Giambra led the Patriots in tackles yesterday afternoon with 12. Josh Blaker, Dave Mawson, Nick Dougal, Mike Hughes, Roman, Houseman and Starinsky also had solid games defensively.

Coach Barrett was happy with the way his defense played and noted the improvement from last week.

“I am very happy with the way our kids played,” Barrett said. “We worked hard on tackling all week and I thought we tackled an awful lot better. We were a defensive football team today.”

The Patriots fell to 2-2 on the season after winning their first two games. The schedule doesn’t get any easier as they travel to Hazleton Area to take on the Cougars on Friday night.

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