YATESVILLE — Pittston Area played the first half of its season opener with Abington Heights as solid as a rock.
What the Patriots didn’t know was that it would be a Rock that basically broke Pittston Area’s back — Sean Rock, that is.
Comets running back Sean Rock carried the ball 17 times for 208 yards, added a 76-yard touchdown run and a 30-yard touchdown catch, that sent deja vu back into Charlie Trippi Stadium. Abington Heights finished off the Patriots 28-0 for the second straight year to open the season.
Pittston Area coach Mike Barrett, in his third season at the helm, has now seen his team play well in an opener again and lose. The Patriots played another promising game against the defending District 2 Class 3A champions. But the scoreboard is sometimes all that matters.
“I thought we played well two years in a row,” Barrett said. “We were a much better football team than a 28-0 score. We matched up with them very well. Our kids have to find a way when they’re hanging on to push through.”
The Patriots played with the Comets snap-for-snap in the first half with only one blunder. That was a 52-yard punt return from Comets slasher Nate Hollander after Pittston Area had already punted once. The Patriots were in an illegal formation, so Abington Heights coach Joe Repshis opted to field the punt again.
But as for the first half, that was it. And the Patriots had the Comets back into a corner.
In fact, Pittston Area outgained Abington Heights 116-92 in the first half — almost half of those yards were on a Rock run.
The running game was one of the bigger question marks for the Patriots heading into Friday’s contest. But Kyle Gutasso ran for 91 yards on 20 carries, aided by a line that really outplayed the Comets most of the way.
Pittston Area started well early. On the third play of the game, Abington Heights wide receiver-turned-quarterback J.C. Show was intercepted by Zack Hoffman, who returned the ball to the Comets’ 28. But what plagued Pittston Area early and often would soon happen. The Patriots drive was cut off in the red zone with no points on the board.
“I think we moved the ball well in both halves,” Barrett said. “There were a lot of positives. That’s what might make this loss hurt a little more.”
A few big plays and the inability for the Patriots to finish drives stalled the Patriots offense, and defense. Without the 52-yard punt return touchdown from Hollander, there would have been no score at the half.
With a chance to tie the game early in the third quarter, Pittston Area went three-and-out to give the ball right back to the Comets. A seven-play drive that covered 45 yards ended in a 9-yard bootleg touchdown run from Show.
Pittston Area was able to move the ball on their next possession into Comet territory. But once again that was it. The ball went right back to Abington Heights, which milked a five-minute drive ending with Show tossing a 30-yard touchdown to Rock.
At 21-0, Pittston Area’s balloon wasn’t completely popped. But it was sure losing air.
Gattusso got things started with a 40-yard return on the ensuing kickoff. But three plays later, Patriots quarterback James Emmett was sacked on third down, resulting in Pittston Area’s fifth punt of the night.
And just like clockwork, Rock showed why he was the player of the game. Abington’s first play of the drive resulted in Rock’s 76-yard touchdown.
“I saw the cutback right away,” Rock said. “The line did a great job of blocking down field. There was a cavalry of blockers for me.”
Most of Rock’s 208 yards on the evening, however, came after contact. So there might be a little tackling practice going on in Yatesville this week.
“I think we just didn’t tackle very well,” Barrett said. “We didn’t wrap up and that’s why he got so many yards after.”
Abington Heights 28, Pittston Area 0
AH — Nate Hollander 52 punt return, Colin McCreary kick, 6:20
AH — J.C. Show 9 run, McCreary kick, 6:39
AH — Sean Rock 30 pass from Show, McCreary kick, 11:05
AH — Rock 76 run, McCreary kick, 8:55
Team statistics Abington Pitt. Area
RUSHING — AH, Rock 17-208 TD, Show 5-18 TD, Perry Williams 4-8, Corey Sochovka 1-1. PA, Kyle Gattuso 20-91, Hassan Maxwell 8-21, James Emmett 5-4, Josh John 1-10, Zach Erfman 3-4.
PASSING — AH, Show 6-9-70-1 TD. PA, Emmett 8-14-60-1, Gattuso 0-1-0-0.
RECEIVING — AH, Hollander 4-33, Rock 1-30 TD, Joe Carroll 1-7. PA, Michael Harth 2-22, Michael Schwab 1-19, Angelo Aita 1-10, Rich Weinstock 1-5, Gattuso 3-4.
INTERCEPTIONS — AH, Kyle Tierney 1-0. PA, Zack Hoffmann 1-14.
MISSED FGs — None.