YATESVILLE — Pittston Area’s decision to defer the opening kickoff may have been what a reeling Hazleton Area team needed.
Coach Mike Brennan challenged his young Cougar squad to go down the field on the opening drive of the game. They responded. Hazleton Area took their opening drive 85 yards, taking nearly six minutes of the clock, and never looked back in a 47-0 win over the Patriots Friday night at Charley Trippi Stadium.
“We wanted to establish the line of scrimmage early,” Brennan said. “Adrian (Otero) is starting to come into his own, as is Carson Kinney. After they deferred we wanted to drive down and get some points.”
Although the offense was clicking throughout the game, it was Brennan’s defense that rose to the occasion as well.
The Cougars held Pittston Area to just 60 yards of offense and just four first downs. Pittston Area did not cross midfield all game. The defense forced two turnovers, including Leonel Peguero’s 33-yard interception return for a touchdown late in the fourth quarter.
“We’re trying to get the edge back,” Brennan said. “We had the edge the first week (in a win over Coughlin). We need to get that back – that enthusiasm and that energy.”
The Cougars lost three straight games coming into the matchup with the Patriots.
Carrying the load offensively for Hazleton Area was sophomore running back Otero. In the first quarter alone, Otero carried the ball nine times for 116 yards with scoring runs of 3, 30 and 43. He finished the game with 178 yards on 23 carries.
As a team, Hazleton Area ran the ball 45 times for 293 yards.
Freshman quarterback Sparky Wolk finished the game with seven completions for 122 yards, including a 53-yard touchdown strike to Jose Cabrera for the Cougars’ second score. The Cougars finished with 415 yards of total offense.
“I’m proud of the effort,” Brennan said. “I’m happy for these kids that worked really hard. This was a little bit of a coming out party and they really had fun.”
After finding their offense in a 38-35 loss to Crestwood last week, Pittston Area stalled most of the game. Quarterback Walter Coles threw for just 19 yards on four completions. Running the ball wasn’t working, either. The Patriots finished the game averaging less than two yards per carry.
Hazleton Area 47, Pittston Area 0
HA — Adrian Otero 3 run (Tristan Williams kick), 7:42
HA — Jose Cabrera 53 pass from Sparky Wolk (kick failed), 6:02
HA — Otero 43 run (Williams kick), 3:38
HA — Otero 30 run (kick failed), 10:55
HA — Carson Kinney 12 run (Williams kick), 0:07
HA — Logan Jones 4 run (Williams kick), 3:51
HA — Leonel Peguero 35 interception return (Williams kick), 2:06
RUSHING — HA, Otero 23-178 3TD, Kinney 8-42 TD, Cabrera 1-21, Josh Zukoski, 6-20, Wolk 2-16, Isaiah Santiago 1-1, Hunter Vanblargan 1-0. PA, Kyle Petroski 11-25, Walter Coles 6-0, Ryan Davis 4-15, Trevor Tigue 1-0, Trevor Woodruff 1-(-5),
PASSING — Wolk 7-13-122-0 TD. PA, Coles 4-9-19-0, Tigue 0-1-0-1.
RECEIVING — Cabrera 3-88 TD, Otero 1-12, Zukoski 1-9, Eddie Bielen 1-7, Will Strassner 1-7. PA, Niko Cinquegrani 1-11, Petroski 1-9, Nic Anastasi 1-5, Paul Brady 1-3.
INTERCEPTIONS — HA, Peguero 1-35 TD.
MISSED FGs — None.
Reach Nick Wagner at 570-602-0178 or on Twitter @Dispatch_Nick