TUNKHANNOCK — Desperate for a win, Pittston Area went into Tunkhannock playing tougher, running faster and hitting harder — in the first three quarters.
After that, however, the Patriots just couldn’t make it stick.
Tunkhannock scored a pair of touchdowns late in the fourth quarter to send Pittston Area to its fifth loss of the season. The Patriots remain the only team in District 2 without win. On the other hand, Tunkhannock has now won back-to-back games for the first time since 2007.
Pittston Area has now lost nine games in a row dating back to last season, the longest streak in District 2. The Patriots are off to their worst start since going winless in 2010.
Early on in Tunkhannock, however, that streak looked like it would be in jeopardy.
Midway through the first quarter, the Patriots put together a 14-play, 69-yard drive — one of their best on the season — capped off by Kyle Petroski’s 3-yard TD run. And after rushing for just 40 yards in last week’s loss to Hazleton Area, the Patriots had their offense going.
Six minutes later, the Patriots were looking for more.
With a 7-0 lead, Pittston Area’s Rich Wallace intercepted a pass and returned it to the Tunkhannock 33 with 15 seconds left. Quarterback Walter Coles connected with Niko Cinquegrani for 26 yards down to the 7 with three seconds left. That’s when things got screwy.
The clock operator ran the game clock on the referee’s “ready for play” signal. The buzzer sounded just before the ball was snapped. It was eventually snapped and Mike McKitish put it through the uprights from 24 yards. However, due to the clock malfunction, the Patriots were forced to kick again.
So McKitish lined it up and the kick was blocked. A Pittston Area player scooped up the ball and ran in the wrong direction with the play still live. The referees blew an intavertant whistle, forcing Pittston Area to kick again. This time, with no malfunctions, the kick was blocked again and PA took just the 7-0 lead into halftime.
The Patriots went in front, 14-7, when they Coles’ 8-yard run capped off a 69-yard drive that ate up seven minutes of clock late in the third quarter. Quickly, Tunkhannock answered.
The Tigers next drive took almost eight minutes. Ryan Cywinski capped off the drive, but the extra point failed and Pittston Area led by one with six minutes to play.
With the score 14-13, the Patriots took over with 5:57 left, and had a chance to ice the game. After Coles ran for a first down, the Patriots were forced to punt from midfield. The snap, however, slipped through punter Paul Brady’s hands and rolled down to the Patriot 30 where Tunkhannock would take over with three minutes left.
Eventually, the Tigers faced a 4-and-10. An all-or-nothing pass to the end zone resulted in a pass interference penalty on Pittston Area, moving the ball to the 15. Five plays later, Ryan Cywinski went in from three yards out to put the game away. Ryan added the two-point conversion.
Coles finished the game with 68 yards rushing, while Petroski added 38. Seventy-five yards of penalties, including 25 on the Tigers’ final possession, hampered the Patriots all game. Pittston Area host Coughlin on Friday, Oct. 16 at Charley Trippi Stadium.
Reach Nick Wagner at 570-991-6406 or on Twitter @Dispatch_Nick