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Patriots grounded by Parsnik, Coughlin

Pittston Area allows Crusaders back to rush for 297 in 27-14 loss

Pittston Area fullback Marc Romanczuk drags Coughlin’s Joe Lanning for a gain on Friday night during the Patriots loss to the Crusaders.

Pittston Area tailback Justin Wilk tries to plow through the Coughlin denfensive line on Friday night at Charley Trippi Stadium in Yatesville.

photos by Charlotte Bartizek

After last week’s overtime loss, Pittston Area was looking for something to ease the pain and get back on the right track. Instead they got a dose of Coughlin running back Joe Parsnik.

The senior halfback did everything but make the Patriots feel good as he had a magnificent game from the Coughlin backfield. Before the night was done, he racked up 297 yards and three touchdowns leading his Crusaders to a 27-14 victory over the Patriots at Charley Trippi Stadium on Friday night.

Parsnick heated up right from the get go as he scored the Crusaders first touchdown of the game. On second-and-3 from the Coughlin 28, Parsnik busted his way through the line of scrimmage and bulldozed Patriot defenders in route to a 72-yard touchdown. Coughlin added the extra point and led 7-0 with 2:53 remaining in the opening quarter.

Parsnik wasn’t the only threat in the Coughlin backfield on Friday night. Junior Nick Evans made his presence felt with 10:17 remaining in the first half when he maneuvered his way past the line of scrimmage and dove into the end zone for a one-yard touchdown rush. The Crusaders again added the extra point and led 14-0.

Things wouldn’t get any better for the Patriots as quarterback Anthony Schwab ran into some bad luck late in the first half. On second down with a long 14 yards to go, the Patriots elected to go to the air. Schwab hit Joe Starinsky in stride with a perfect spiral but the ball went through Starinsky’s hands and found none other than Parsnik for an interception at the Coughlin 27-yard line.

Rather than just go down and make sure he didn’t fumble, Parsnik saw the light at the end of the tunnel. Parsnick returned the INT 7-3 yards for yet another Coughlin touchdown as the Crusaders took a 21-0 lead close to intermission.

The Patriots showed some offensive life when they took the ball over after the score.

Pittston Area drove all the way down to the Coughlin 34-yard line after Schwab found tight end Brian Delaney for a 16-yard reception and a Patriots first down. However, with 29.7 seconds remaining until the half, Schwab’s pass was intercepted by Coughlin senior defensive back Frank Mahmoud.

Coughlin was unable to score given the long field and the short amount of time and headed into the locker room with a 21-0 lead.

Parsnik picked up right where he left off by finding the end zone for the third time with 6:18 remaining in the third quarter. The touchdown was another lengthy rush as he traveled 39 yards, weaving his way in and out of Patriot defenders and into the end zone. The Crusaders failed to complete the extra point, but they still led 27-0 with time running out for the Patriots.

The Patriots finally found some offensive life late in the third quarter. Schwab completed four straight passes to a combination which included Jordan Houseman, Evan Hahn and Marc Romanczuk. The Patriots drive eventually ended in a punt, but it gave the Patriots some offensive momentum for the first time in the ball game.

The also gained some momentum when Starinsky made a brilliant defensive play early in the fourth quarter, coming up with a key interception to set up the Patriots in great field position.

On first-and-10 from the 36-yard line Schwab found Hahn for a 21-yard reception. The play looked as if it was only going to go for about 14 yards, but Hahn refused to be taken down as he went for seven yards after the catch.

Later in the drive, Schwab found his star receiver Houseman for a 12-yard touchdown reception. Chris Musto drilled the extra point, but the Patriots still trailed 27-7 with just 7:42 remaining in regulation.

Coughlin continued to keep the ball on the ground and kill the clock. With a big lead in the game and faced with a fourth-and-10, the Crusaders still elected to go for the first down. They went to air and to the end zone, but it didn’t end well for Coughlin as Patriots senior cornerback Mike Stankoski intercepted the pass in the end zone went 105 yards down the far sideline for one of the longest touchdown plays in Pittston Area history.

The Patriots were called for unsportsmanlike conduct, which meant Musto would have to split the uprights from 35 yards in order to get the seven points for the touchdown. The long extra point was no problem for Musto as he kicked it right down the center with plenty of distance.

However, it was too little, too late for the Patriots as they dropped the contest by a score of 27-14.

Schwab completed 12 of his passes for 124 yards, while Romanczuk led the ground attack as he went for 70 yards on 10 carries. Hahn was the leading receiver for the Patriots as he caught four passes for 36 yards.

The schedule remains tough, as the Patriots will take the long bus ride to Crispin Field in Berwick to take on the Bulldogs who have won four straight this Friday night.

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