WILLIAMSPORT -- About the last thing Coughlin (4-2) wanted to do was be victimized by Williamsport's potent return game.
So when the Crusaders kicked off to start the game, they hustled and recovered the ball 35 yards downfield.
From there, Coughlin owned the momentum throughout the first half of a 36-8 victory at Millionaires Stadium on Friday night.
"We just planned to go right down the field and chip it down the right sideline," said Paul Cole, who recovered the kick without a challenge from Williamsport (0-6). "We hustled down field and got the ball."
Right before Hunter Bednarczyk's opening kickoff, the Williamsport deep guys on the return team told the line in front of them to let anything go that wasn't in front of them. As the kick came down around the 29, the up men released and the deep Williamsport players did not get to the ball – giving Coughlin a short field.
Four plays later, Cole punched it in on a 1-yard run for a 7-0 lead two minutes in.
"The last two weeks were so disappointing," Coughlin coach Ciro Cinti said of losses to Dallas and Wyoming Valley West. "We needed a good start. I told them that if we played with intensity, it will pay off. This was big, especially after last week's loss."
The Crusaders scored on four of their six first-half possessions, with three of those scoring drives starting in Williamsport territory.
After Anthony Khalife recovered a fumble, Coughlin went 27 yards on five plays early in the second quarter. A Bednarczyk interception set up a two-play possession in the final minute of the half. On second-and-9, quarterback Tim Pilch hit Bednarczyk in stride for a 44-yard touchdown, extending Coughlin's lead to 28-0 with 41 seconds remaining in the first half.
"He's a great kid," Cinti said of Bednarczyk, the senior do-all, who kicked four extra points, ran a reverse and threw for a two-point conversion. "He's our H-back. He plays every position on the field. I think the world of him."
Zac Evans scored on runs of 28 and 10 yards, and had 130 yards on 18 carries in the first half. He finished with 165 yards rushing. He also had an interception in the second half, which he returned for 28 yards.
In all, Coughlin had 225 yards in the first half -- 181 on the ground. The Crusaders averaged 6.5 yards per attempt in the first 24 minutes.
"We've got to give it to them," Cole said, crediting the Coughlin offensive line. "They've been blocking well for us. They prepared and worked hard this week and it showed."
The Crusaders forced four turnovers in all, with Corey Keen snaring a deflected pass on Williamsport's first possession of the second half.
"(Assistant coach) Ed Michaels does a phenomenal job with our defense," Cinti said. "They fly to the ball. He puts in so much time with them. He's a great asset to the team."
Williamsport's Devin Miller was limited to 86 yards from scrimmage. He did have a 92-yard kickoff return to set up the Millionaires' lone score. The kickoff skipped past Miller at the 20 and he retreated to the 5 to get the loose ball. He picked it up and turned around, then weaved his way through the broken kick coverage.
"To contain Miller, we just made sure to go out and do our jobs," Cole said. "We just played our basic, hard-hitting defense."
COU – Paul Cole 1 run (Hunter Bednarczyk kick), 10:18
COU – Zac Evans 28 run (Bednarczyk kick), :00
COU – Evans 10 run (Bednarczyk kick), 8:17
COU – Bednarczyk 44 pass from Tim Pilch (Bednarczyk kick), :41
WIL – Sadiq Burkholder 8 run (Jerah Reeves pass form Burkholder), :14
COU – Pilch 3 run (Anthony Khalife pass from Bednarczyk)
RUSHING – COU: Evans 25-165, Cole 7-26, Ryan Gorki 3-17, Pilch 8-15, Bednarczyk 1-5, Tom Mitchell 4-(-6), Team 1-0; WIL: Devin Miller 14-45, Burkholder 10-36, Caleb Belle 3-6, Owen Lukens 1-(-2)
PASSING – COU: Pilch 1-4-0-44; WIL:Burkholder 7-247-3-71
RECEIVING – COU: Bednarczyk 1-44; WIL: Miller 3-41, Lukens 2-27, Reeves 1-2, Tanner Bashnick 1-1
INTS – COU: Evans 1-28, Bednarczyk 1-20, Corey