A pair of turnovers early and a holding penalty. That was Pittston Area’s demise when Coughlin came to town looking for revenge from last season’s 38-36 upset.
The Patriots threw an interception on their first play, fumbled a kickoff two possessions later, and had a touchdown called back from a holding penalty enroute to a 32-13 loss at the hands of Coughlin Friday night at Charley Trippi Stadium.
“We had some real good opportunities tonight,” Pittston Area coach Mike Barrett said. “We started the game and it didn’t seem like it was going our way. I thought our kids fought really hard.”
James Emmett set a season high with 36 pass attempts. He completed 14 of them for 106 yards and a pair of touchdowns. But just like last week, the Patriots struggled to get the motor running in the first half.
Pittston Area spotted the Crusaders 18 points in the first half Friday — the Patriots were down 17-0 last week against Dallas before pulling off the comeback.
The running game was a non-factor for the locals. Leading rusher Kyle Gattuso had only four carries for 12 yards. In all, the Patriots ran the ball just 11 times — four in the second half.
“I knew we were going to struggle running the football,” Barrett said. “Our line held up well. I thought we protected very well.”
Barrett said he had three sophomores starting on the offensive line, who gave up three sacks.
Coughlin’s Paul Cole ran for 191 yards on 31 carries, eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark on the season, and added four touchdowns to lead Coughlin. Quarterback Tim Pilch had 83 yards on 17 carries.
PA had its chances early, and points off of turnovers would prove to be the difference in this Wyoming Valley Conference matchup.
The Pats first interception resulted in six points for the Crusaders. Following a Pittston Area punt, the Crusaders scored again. The Patriots fumbled the ensuing kickoff, which led to another six points and an 18-0 lead for Coughlin.
Just like last week, Pittston Area’s offense started to click in the second half.
Michael Schwab picked off Pilch early in the third quarter at the Crusaders 44. Five plays later, Emmett hit Rich Weinstock on a fade to the back of the end zone from 24 yards out and it looked like a Patriot touchdown. However, the Pats were called for a hold and the drive fizzled out.
“I thought that was big,” Barrett said. “James thew the ball well we just didn’t come up with it.We had a chance to make it 18-7 there but we got the hold.”
After gaining only 53 yards in the first two quarters, quarterback James Emmett and company went to the air attack. The Patriots ran the ball only four times in the final two quarters.
Midway through the third quarter, the Patriots used a nine-play drive, capped off with four straight completions for 55 yards. Hassan Maxwell caught a 5-yard slant pass to close the lead to 18-7.
Coughlin went three-and-out on its next possession to give Pittston a shot, but Emmett’s first pass was intercepted by Pilch. Six plays later, Cole punched in his third touchdown from a yard out.
Not out of it yet, Pittston Area went on a 12-play, 55-yard drive culminating in an Emmett 19-yard touchdown pass to Schwab to make it 25-13. The Patriots recovered a Jordan Consagra onside kick with a chance to make it a one-score game, but the Patriots turned the ball over on downs.
Cole later went in for a 33-yard touchdown.
“Our defense really fought and we made them earn yards tonight,” Barrett said. “But our kids really fought hard tonight.”
Pittston Area travels to Berwick next week. The Bulldogs were winners over Williamsport this week, 48-7.