YATESVILLE — One hundred weeks. Twenty-three months. Seven-hundred days.
That’s how long it’s been since Pittston Area has last won a high school football game. All of that changed Friday night in one kick.
Thanks to Pittston Area kicker Mike Mikitish’s 26-yard field goal, the Patriots came away with their first win since Oct. 3, 2014, and improved to 1-1 on the young season. The final score of 30-28 wasn’t indicitive of what Pittston Area was doing early on, but coach Jim Norris will take his fourth win in his three-year career.
“To stop the slide is important,” he said. “To go out the way we did and show character was really important. After the first half we wanted the score to be different, but we were able to hang on.”
Mikitish, a junior, split the uprights with 10 seconds to play to snap a streak of 15-straight losses.
Patriot quarterback Walter Coles finished the game with 97 yards passing and two touchdowns to wideout Kevin Krawczyk, who had 74 yards receiving. The Patriots, who finished off one of their most rounded offensive performances in recent memory, ran the ball 41 times for 218 yards.
Coles started the game 7-for-7, with 63 yards midway through the second quarter, and the Patriots were up 14-0 thanks to those two touchdowns to Krawczyk.
“Fifteen in a row doesn’t feel good,” Krawczyk said. “We really noticed that and all the hard work paid off.”
The Patriots drove the ball right down the field on their opening possession. A six-minute drive, capped off by a touch pass from Coles to Krawczyk in the back of the end zone, gave PA an early lead.
Pittston Area’s second touchdown, late in the first quarter, was a methodical, 5-minute drive as well. Krawczyk ran a buttonhook and sat in the front of the end zone when Coles stuck the football in his chest.
And while the ball was moving early for the Patriots, they didn’t make this an easy win.
After being up 21-7 at the half, Pittston Area allowed the Tigers to claw back in the second half.
Down 21-14 to open the fourth quarter, Tunkhannock quarterback Logan Cywinski threaded the needle on a 79-yard touchdown catch and run by Mike Taylor to make the game tied at 21 with 11:47 to play. A Patriot three-and-out, followed by a Tunkhannock three-and-out, gave the Patriots the ball on their own 49 with just six minutes to play.
The Patriots would eat up the clock, using runs from Coles and Trevor Tigue, to set up a 3-yard touchdown run by Coles with less than two minutes remaining. Mikitish would miss wide on the ensuing extra point.
Tunkhannock, down 27-21 and starting on its own 20, had 1:44 to work with to score. Three plays after taking possession, Cywinski hit Taylor again on a 48-yard touchdown catch and run. Tunkhannock’s Billy Prebola hit the extra point and the Tigers had the lead.
Pittston Area then took over on its own 35 with 56 seconds remaining. Coles and Krawczyk continued to dink and dunk down the field until the Patriots were faced with a 2-and-4 with 13 seconds remaining, inside the five. After Pittston Area suffered a false start, Mikitish, who also plays on the PA soccer team, stepped up and booted his third career high school field goal.
“This was a great high school football game,” Norris said. “He’s been waiting for his opportunity all season, and he finally got it. This is a great reward for him.”
As for the nerves? Mikitish admitted they were present prior to kicking the game-winner.
“I had a lot of nervousness going through my head - felt like passing out,” Mikitish said. “You don’t expect all that pressure and then it hits all at once.”
Coles and the Patriots are already looking to next week’s home matchup with Dallas.
“We’re ready for more,” he said. “We got this first win and we’re ready for next week. This is just the start and we’re coming for more.”