MOSCOW — North Pocono needed just six minutes and 36 seconds Friday night to string together the game’s first four touchdowns on the way to a 48-15 rout of visiting Pittston Area in a District 2 Class 4A football quarterfinal.
The Patriots and defending champion Trojans each put together impressive drives that produced four first downs to begin the game.
The difference was that Pittston Area stalled after reaching the red zone and North Pocono never slowed down.
The bigger difference in the game was what came next.
Pittston Area turned the ball over on three of its next four plays and North Pocono converted each turnover into a score for a 28-0 lead with 8:33 to go in the first half.
“They’re a good football team and they’re battle-tested,” Pittston Area coach Nick Barbieri said. “You cannot do what we did. We’ve done that before.
“In our games that we’ve lost, we’ve been very generous in giving the ball away.”
While Pittston Area’s offense was having trouble holding onto the ball, North Pocono’s was unstoppable in the first half.
The Trojans scored on their first five possessions and crossed midfield on the sixth before choosing not to race the clock with a 35-7 lead and time running out in the first half.
J.C. Gaughan and Joe Ianni each scored two first-half touchdowns while Donny Blaine threw a pass for one of Ianni’s scores and ran for one of his own.
Gaughan carried 21 times for 192 yards while running for a touchdown in each quarter.
North Pocono coach Greg Dolhon said his team’s 4-1 turnover advantage included a bit of good fortune.
There was no such factor in the Trojans turning the four turnovers into touchdowns by moving a collective 202 yards in 17 plays in just 5:49, despite going to the air just once.
“I thought our kids cashed in by being very physical and running the football,” said Dolhon, a Wyoming Area graduate. “We’ve got some good running backs.
“We haven’t done that every game this year, but when we can give them a crease, they can make things happen.”
North Pocono (7-4) used the win to advance to next week’s semifinal at top-seeded Berwick (9-2).
Pittston Area ended its first winning season since 2008, and its first under Barbieri, at 6-5.
Walter Coles wrapped up his career by completing 17 of 32 passes for 196 yards and two touchdowns.
Coles opened the game with five straight completions in the first drive. He threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to Andrew Krawczyk midway through the second quarter to cut the deficit to 28-7 and found Mike Coe for a 34-yard score with 3:41 left, after the game had gone to the Mercy Rule.