WILKES-BARRE – Pittston Area cut two touchdown deficits to one on three occasions during Friday night’s football game against GAR.
The Grenadiers made sure that after the third rally, the Patriots never got a shot at the tying score.
GAR ran the final 5:21 off the clock, converting a pair of third-down plays to hold off visiting Pittston Area, 26-19, in a game that was delayed 58 minutes in the first quarter because of lightning.
Walter Coles connected with Rich Wallace for three touchdown passes and Keemar Woodruff also had a productive game offensively for the Patriots, who fell to 1-4.
GAR secured its second win with the game-ending drive, getting just enough yardage twice, following a fourth-down touchdown pass from Coles to Wallace.
The Grenadiers used Mike Drozda’s run up the middle to convert third-and-three with little to spare on the first series. Then, Tashawn Qualls threw over the middle on third-and-11 and found Anthony Hoopingarner for 12 yards.
Coles, Wallace and Woodruff all went over 100 yards for the night.
Along with the three touchdowns, Coles finished 10-for-22 for 181 yards. Wallace caught four passes for 102 yards. Woodruff carried 16 times for 117 yards, including 84 in the first half.
Even though it started a few minutes before the scheduled 7 p.m. kickoff, the game did not end until 10:35. The teams warmed up before the game, after the lightning delay, then again before and after the second-half kickoff.
GAR’s Gerson Peralta suffered a serious leg injury on the kickoff and needed to be taken off the field on a stretcher, leading to a second delay of almost 20 minutes.
The Grenadiers opened a 12-0 lead in the first quarter by scoring on consecutive offensive plays. They used Peralta’s 32-yard kickoff return to score on the opening possession of the third quarter for a 20-6 lead. Then, they converted a partially blocked punt into Josh Goodwin’s second touchdown run on the next play to make it 20-12 late in the third quarter.
Pittston Area put together a response each time.
Following Goodwin’s 64-yard run for GAR’s second touchdown, Woodruff broke off a 28-yard run on the first play.
Counting the timeout it had already taken, Pittston Area had more than an hour to come up with a solution for a fourth-and-11 situation. On the first play following the lightning delay and the last play of the first quarter, Coles hit Kevin Krawczyk for 12 yards to keep the drive alive.
Coles took a hit that knocked his helmet off in order to deliver a pass to Wallace for the touchdown on third-and-goal from the 9 with 10:41 left in the half.
Each team scored on the first possession of the second half.
Coles sent a short second-and-23 pass out to Wallace near the right sideline. Wallace immediately split two defenders and was off on a footrace in which two Grenadiers came close, but neither was able to catch him on the 76-yard touchdown.
Unlike the first two rallies, Pittston Area needed two possessions to respond after Anthony Blake partially blocked a punt from the end zone to set up Goodwin’s touchdown.
The Patriots covered 61 yards in 11 plays, converting two fourth downs and a third down. Woodruff’s 33-yard run on fourth-and-three helped set up the 8-yard touchdown pass.
That, however, was the last time Pittston Area’s offense touched the ball.