WILKES-BARRE — Coughlin running back Paul Cole was wondering just when he would get a chance to run the ball Friday night. After all, he was coming off a career game last weekend and the Crusaders love the ground game.
Once Cole got that first chance, he kept running … all the way to a new career high.
Cole rushed for 182 yards on 30 carries, helping Coughlin to a 26-16 victory over Hazleton Area in a Wyoming Valley Conference interdivisional game.
Meanwhile, quarterback Tim Pilch added two TD passes and 137 yards through the air. Both were career highs for the senior signal-caller. And an oddity for Coughlin (2-0), which is known as a ground-and-pound team.
“I was waiting, I was waiting for my chance,” Cole said. “Coach White (offensive coordinator Kenny) was doing what he had to do. I was just waiting my turn.”
The first chance came on the last play of the first quarter as Cole ripped off a 7-yard run. His no-nonsense running style wore on Hazleton Area. His 6-yard touchdown run with 7:20 to play built Coughlin’s lead to 26-10.
“If it wasn’t for the line, I wouldn’t have gotten the yards I got,” Cole said. “The line came to play today, and we have to focus on next week.”
As for Hazleton Area (0-2), the Cougars lost their eighth game in a row. They were handed a golden opportunity early in the third quarter when linebacker Jesus Castillo recovered a fumble at the Coughlin 6-yard line. Quarterback Julius Ward powered across the goal line from 2 yards out two plays later, cutting Coughlin’s lead to 13-10.
But the Crusaders came back with a 31-yard touchdown pass from Pilch to Tom Mitchell and Cole’s TD run.
“Overall, it wasn’t just one or two kids,” Coughlin coach Ciro Cinti said. “A lot of kids contributed tonight.”
Hazleton Area never found any rhythm on offense. The Cougars’ last touchdown summed up the offense as receiver Charlie Burrows had to fall on a fumbled reception in the end zone. There were also two dropped passes that could have possibily gone for touchdowns. At the very least, both would have been substantial gains.
“The kids worked hard all week,” Hazleton Area coach Jim Drumheller said. “The gameplan was in, we just didn’t execute and capitalize on plays when had them.”
Coughlin 26, Hazleton Area 16
HA — Tristan Williams 27 field goal, 8:28
COU — Tim Pilch 52 run (kick failed), 1:24
COU — Darik Johnson 24 pass from Pilch (Brandon Butry kick), 0:15
HA — Julius Ward 2 run (Williams kick), 10:51
COU — Tom Mitchell 31 pass from Pilch (Burty kick), 2:19
COU — Paul Cole 6 run (kick failed), 7:20
HA — Charlie Burrows fumble recovery in end zone (pass failed), 6:15
Team statistics`Haz Area`Coughlin
RUSHING — Haz Area, Zach Zukoski 12-29, Ward 6-5, Nick George 2 34. Coughlin, Cole 30-182, Pilch 14-55, Tyler Layton 3-5, Johnson 2-12, team 4-(minus-24).
PASSING — Haz Area, Ward 6-14-1-87. Coughlin, Pilch 7-13-2-137, Johnson 1-1-0-7, team 0-2-0-0.
RECEIVING — Haz Area, Jeff Ochs 4-45, Gavin Kopczynskie 1-14, George 1-19. Coughlin, Johnson 4-77, Frank Wojtash 1-7, Dave Parsnik 2-29, Mitchell 1-31.
INTERCEPTIONS — Haz Area, Z.Zukoski, Ochs. Coughlin, Chris Sebia.
MISSED FGs — None.