YATESVILLE — Four of Pittston Area’s eight drives started inside the 20-yard line on Friday night. And the Patriots struggled to get out of the shadow of their own end zone all game.
In the opening game of the 2015 football season against Abington Heights, the Patriots average starting field position was the 19-yard line. And while Pittston Area outgained the Comets, Abington Heights came away with a 10-0 win at Charley Trippi Stadium.
“They scored 10 more points than we did,” Pittston Area coach Jim Norris said. “We battled with field position the whole game.”
Pittston Area did its best to grind out yardage but couldn’t put a full drive together. The Patriots finished with 201 yards of offense, while the Comets totaled 181.
The Pittston Area running back committee of Carmen Falcone, Kyle Petroski, Eric Petroski and Ryan Davis combined for 149 yards. Kyle Petroski finished the game with 65 yards on nine carries.
Midway through the second quarter, Kyle Petroski broke off a 55-yard run deep inside Comet territory. However, the play was called back due to a hold and the Pittston area drive stalled.
“I think we grinded the whole game,” Pittston Area coach Jim Norris said. “It’s a tough matchup for us against a team coached by Joe Repshis. I’m proud of the way our kids played.”
Pittston Area’s next-best chance to break into Comet territory is was early in the fourth quarter. Starting at their own 7, the Patriots moved the ball to midfield and faced a fourth-and-1. Norris called on his sophomore quarterback Walter Coles to make a pass. Coles overshot Nic Anastasi and the Patriots turned the ball over on downs.
“We put the ball in a young quarterback’s hands and it didn’t work out,” Norris said. “We have a lot of games left and he’s going to have a lot more opportunities for it to work out.”
Abington Heights looked poised to take a 7-0 lead early when Brandon Hardy returned the opening kickoff 66 yards to the Patriot 23. After seven plays, however, the Comets faced a fourth-and-goal from the 2 and Pittston Area stood tall to force a turnover on downs.
Each team struggled to get the ball moving in the first three quarters. At halftime, the teams combined for just 148 yards and a 0-0 score.
Abington Heights’ first scoring drive came late in the third quarter. The Comets went 57 yards in five minutes to set up Colin McCreary with a 42-yard field goal attempt. McCreary split the uprights to take a 3-0 lead.
“We emphasize all three phases of the game,” Repshis said. “(McCreary) is a veteran on this team and with him if we can move the ball we can get a chance to score. It’s a weapon.”
Abington Heights put the game away with three minutes to play in the final quarter. Rheyse Green broke off a 37-yard touchdown run to make the score 10-0.
Coles finished the game with 6-for-11 with 72 yards. Sixty-seven of those yards, however, came on the Patriots final drive late in the fourth quarter. Paul Brady had two catches for 34 yards, while Anastasi finished with 27 yards on three catches.
Pittston Area will be back at Trippi on Friday with a matchup against Valley View. The Cougars were 21-0 winners over Mid-Valley on Friday night.