KINGSTON – In the blink of an eye, a tie ballgame quickly turned into a rout.
That’s what turnovers can do.
Wyoming Valley West took a 21-14 lead at halftime and sent it into the mercy rule just seven minutes into the second half, taking advantage of several Coughlin turnovers en route to a 56-14 victory.
The Spartans scored 49 unanswered points, including 28 in the third quarter.
“We caused some big turnovers, and we capitalized on them,” WVW head coach Pat Keating said. “That was a big thing in the second half. I was pleased with the way we came out in the second half, compared to the way we started the game.”
Coughlin (4-1) held a 14-7 lead in the second quarter, but the Crusaders couldn’t handle the football, turning it over four times. They fumbled two kickoffs in the third quarter that set up Valley West’s offense deep in Coughlin territory.
All four turnovers turned into Spartan scores.
“Having that many turnovers against a quality team is what really kills you,” Coughlin head coach Ciro Cinti said. “They are a great team, and we knew that. The turnovers are the story. You can’t give them the ball on the 10-yard line or 15-yard line in less than one minute. They will score because that’s the type of team they are. Even in the first half, we were in the game but we made too many mistakes.”
Spartan quarterback Michael Baur led the enormous second-half charge, throwing a long TD pass to Chris Baranski (61 yards) and Alex Barilla (46 yards), while running in another from 34 yards out.
For the game, he accounted for five scores, throwing for 185 yards and running for nearly 60.
“We knew we made too many mistakes in the first half, and we had to come out and fight in the second half,” the quarterback said. “They always battle us. It’s always a fight with them. We knew we had to be explosive and come out a different team in the second half.”
The biggest play of the game, though, came right before halftime.
With the score tied at 14, and Valley West (4-1) facing a fourth-and-goal, Coughlin decided to call a timeout when Keating sent out kicker Ian Ultsh to attempt a 21-yard field goal. Instead of attempting the kick, Baur returned to the field and found favorite target Michael Sands for a short, 4-yard pass toward the back of the end zone.
The play seemingly took all the momentum from Coughlin, and fired up a Valley West squad heading into the locker room.
“Depending where the ball was, we were going to try the field goal,” Keating said. “They called a timeout and we figured they were going to set up a block, so we figured we would go for it. That was definitely a momentum-changer for us.”
Valley West led 7-0 after the opening quarter, but Coughlin scored two touchdowns in the span of 30 seconds. Paul Cole darted through the middle for an 11-yard score, knotting the game at 7. The Spartans fumbled the ensuing kickoff, and on the next play, Darik Johnson made a spectacular catch on a 24-yard pass from Tim Pilch.
It was the last time the Crusaders held a lead.
Cole had a strong game, rushing for 133 yards and one score. Pilch threw for 118 yards, and ran for another 54.
Wyoming Valley West 56, Coughlin 14
Wyoming Valley West`7`14`28`7`—`56
W – Michael Baur 13 run (Ian Ultsh kick), 8:47
C – Paul Cole 11 run (Brandon Butry kick), 11:36
C – Darik Johnson 24 pass from Tim Pilch (Butry kick), 11:09
W – Eric Acosta 64 run (Ultsh kick), 7:18
W – Michael Sands 4 pass from Baur (Ultsh kick), 1:59
W – Chris Baranski 61 pass from Baur (Ultsh kick), 11:41
W – Baur 34 run (Ultsh kick), 10:59
W – Alex Barilla 46 pass from Baur (Ultsh kick), 5:35
W – Troy Yashinski 16 run (Ultsh kick), 5:17
W – Michael Baird 9 run (Ultsh kick), 4:32
RUSHING — COU, Paul Cole 15-133, Tim Pilch 15-54, Josh Hvozdovic 2-14, Jacob Soller 3-6, Derek Nunez 1-(-2). WVW, Eric Acosta 9-102, Michael Baur 6-54, Sean Judge 9-52, Troy Yashinski 4-47, Michael Baird 3-12, Bill Davison 1-5, Brady Davison 1-2, Dasheym Weeks 2-1, Team 1-(-4).
PASSING —COU, Tim Pilch 5-11-0-118, Darik Johnson 0-1-0-0. WVW, Michael Baur 7-14-0-185.
RECEIVING — COU, Darik Johnson 4-56, Tom Mitchell 1-62. WVW, Michael Sands 5-78, Chris Baranski 1-61, Alex Barilla 1-46.