WILKES-BARRE — Pittston Area used the second half to turn to second choices at two key offensive positions.
Alex Anastasi took over at quarterback and Jordan O’Boyle became the primary ballcarrier at tailback.
O’Boyle and Anastasi led the way as the Patriots overcame an eight-point halftime deficit to post a 25-14 victory over Coughlin in a Wyoming Valley Conference football game.
The win moved the Patriots above .500 and kept the Crusaders winless through five games.
O’Boyle had less than half as many carries as team rushing leader Dylan Lukachko on the season and had half as many in the first half. He took over in the second half, running for 161 of his 172 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
“Jordan had the hot hand tonight,” Pittston Area coach Nick Barbieri said. “Against Tunkhannock, Dylan had the hot hand.
“The way they were slanting, Jordan is very good at cutting the ball back. He found a few creases and ran the ball very well for us.”
Anastasi had gotten less playing time than O’Boyle while Mike Nocito threw more than 20 times per game in the first four weeks. After the Patriots were held to minus-5 yards rushing in the first half, Barbieri turned to Anastasi, who had brought more of a running approach in the times that he had played in earlier games.
“We have two quarterbacks that can play,” Barbieri said. “We’ve been going with Nocito the first four games.
“I just thought we needed a spark. I knew that Alex was a little bit better runner and I thought we could get some things going off our counter game. If he could carry the ball, it might open some things up.”
Anastasi ran seven times for 26 yards, scored a touchdown, hit two of three passes for 45 yards and gave the Patriots a different offensive look after a sluggish first half.
“I just wanted to get out there,” said Anastasi, who is in his first season at Pittston Area after starting at quarterback as a freshman at Old Forge two years ago. “I wanted to show my talents, but I was just waiting on my opportunity.
“When I got it, I wanted to make the best of it.”
The two halves had an entirely different look.
Coughlin held the ball for 17:55 of the 24 minutes in the first half and had a 12-3 lead in first downs. Pittston Area scored first on a 61-yard Mike Nocito-to-Andrew Krawczyk pass in the first minute of the second quarter and was still outgained, 201-73, in the first half.
Pittston Area dominated the second half, leading 7-3 in first downs, 179-51 in rushing yards, 224-51 in total offense and 15:28-8:32 in time of possession.
“I thought our defense played well in the second half,” Barbieri said of a unit led by Brennan Higgins, Franny George, Tannon Kraklio and John DeLucca.
Coughlin had an offensive change of its own.
When starting quarterback Garrett Wardle went out on the game’s second play on a hit by a pass rusher, the Crusaders turned to sophomore Sa’id Hollis.
Hollis was also a running quarterback replacing a passer and the Patriots had trouble containing him in the first half.
Hollis ran 3 and 1 yards for second-quarter touchdowns and finished the half with 87 yards rushing on 16 carries.
O’Boyle’s 23-yard touchdown run brought the Patriots within two points with 21 seconds left in the third quarter.
Anastasi found Krawczyk on a 37-yard pass to set up his own 1-yard touchdown run for the lead.
Mike Coe’s fourth-and-one tackle for a loss with 1:43 left put the Patriots in position to try to kill the clock.
Instead, O’Boyle broke free on a clinching, 63-yard touchdown run.
Blair Academy 30, Wyoming Seminary 15
The Blue Knights fell behind 12-0 in the opening quarter and never recovered in a loss to Blair Academy.
Pittston Area 25, Coughlin 14
Pittston Area`0`6`6`13 — 25
Coughlin`0`14`0`0 — 14
PA – Andrew Krawczyk 61 pass from Mike Nocito (kick failed), 11:40
COU – Sa’id Hollis 3 run (Chad Regan kick), 5:42
COU – Hollis 1 run (Regan kick), 0:00
PA – Jordan O’Boyle 23 run (pass failed), 0:21.9
PA – Anastasi 1 run (run failed), 7:33
PA – O’Boyle 63 run (Luchia Carabetta kick), 1:30
RUSHING — PA, Jordan O’Boyle 15-172, Alex Anastasi 7-26, Dylan Lukachko 4-11, Team 2-minus 3, Devin Atkins 2-minus 10, Mike Nocito 2-minus 22. CO, Sa’id Hollis 22-81, Rafael McCoy 11-52, Marquis Silva 8-49, Jervone Young 6-16, Xayvion Proctor 3-12.
PASSING — PA, Nocito 3-9-1-78, Anastasi 2-3-0-45 CO, Hollis 2-7-0-42, Wardle 0-1-0-0.
RECEIVING — PA, Andrew Krawczyk 2-98, Tannon Kraklio 1-16, Bryan Giambra 1-8, Mike Coe 1-1. CO, McCoy 1-31, Nino Cinti 1-11.
INTERCEPTIONS — PA, Kraklio 1-23, Franny George 1-13. CO, Amir Jones 1-0.
MISSED FIELD GOALS – None.
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