Interceptions help Pittston Area football team get past Tunkhannock, 20-7

By Tom Robinson - For Sunday Dispatch
Byran Giambra catches a 32-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Mike Nocito to pull ahead of the Tunkhannock Tigers, 20-7, at halftime. - Tony Callaio | For Sunday Dispatch
Pittston Area’s Andrew Krawczyk catches a ball tipped off Tunkhannock defender Jake Frisco in action Friday night at Trippi Stadium. - Tony Callaio | For Sunday Dispatch
Patriot Dylan Lukachko bolts through a huge hole against the Tigers of Tunkhannock Friday night. - Tony Callaio | For Sunday Dispatch

YATESVILLE – Pittston Area did not always hold on to the ball as long as coach Nick Barbieri would like, but the Patriots took it away with enough frequency to emerge victorious.

Billy Kyttle intercepted two passes Friday night while Tannon Kraklio and Franny George picked off one each to help the Patriots turn back winless Tunkhannock, 20-7, in a Wyoming Valley Conference Class 4A Division football game at Charley Trippi Stadium.

“Defensively, we did a little bit better,” Barbieri said. “We’re still pretty susceptible to the run, but when you get four turnovers, that will help.”

The Patriots (2-1) have forced 10 turnovers in three games and committed just one.

“We’re plus-9, so that’s gonna help,” Barbieri said. “But, we’ve got to be able to do a better job of establishing the run and not shooting ourselves in the foot.”

The Patriots had two touchdowns called back by penalties, including one on a Dylan Lukachko run.

On a night when the rest of the ground game totaled negative 14 yards on 10 attempts, Lukachko carried 26 times for 153 yards and a touchdown.

“I plan on giving him the ball that much every game,” Barbieri said. “ … He stepped up tonight. My goal is always to establish the run.”

Lukachko helped the Patriots put the game away by running for 105 yards on 15 second-half carries, including 72 on seven carries while taking time off the clock in the fourth quarter.

Building the lead, however, required some clutch pass plays as Tunkhannock amassed statistical advantages in time of possession, offensive plays, rushing yards and passing yards.

Pittston Area opened the scoring with its longest drive of the night, covering nine plays in 89 yards. Right in the middle of the drive, the Patriots pulled off a fake punt from their 34 with Bryan Giambra receiving a short snap and passing 12 yards to Andrew Krawczyk.

Giambra caught a 29-yard pass from Mike Nocito on the next play and Krawczyk completed the drive by pulling in a 20-yard touchdown pass on a third-and-five play in which a defender batted the ball into the air in the end zone.

Nocito stood his ground and took big hits from pass rushers on both his touchdown throws. The second allowed him to deliver the ball into the end zone to Giambra for a 32-yard touchdown on fourth-and-10 with 2:15 left in the half to complete the scoring.

Lukachko also had a touchdown on a 3-yard run in the first quarter for a 14-0 lead.

Kyttle set up that touchdown with a diving interception at the 12. He also helped seal the win by intercepting on Tunkhannock’s last play with three minutes left, but had a potential 59-yard touchdown return wiped out by an illegal block.

The pass defense produced consecutive broken-up passes by Kyttle, Brennan Higgins and Franny George after the Tigers got to second-and-six at the 14 with more than seven minutes to play.

Byran Giambra catches a 32-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Mike Nocito to pull ahead of the Tunkhannock Tigers, 20-7, at halftime.
https://www.psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/web1_PA-football-3.jpgByran Giambra catches a 32-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Mike Nocito to pull ahead of the Tunkhannock Tigers, 20-7, at halftime. Tony Callaio | For Sunday Dispatch

Pittston Area’s Andrew Krawczyk catches a ball tipped off Tunkhannock defender Jake Frisco in action Friday night at Trippi Stadium.
https://www.psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/web1_PA-football1.jpgPittston Area’s Andrew Krawczyk catches a ball tipped off Tunkhannock defender Jake Frisco in action Friday night at Trippi Stadium. Tony Callaio | For Sunday Dispatch

Patriot Dylan Lukachko bolts through a huge hole against the Tigers of Tunkhannock Friday night.
https://www.psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/web1_PA-football2.jpgPatriot Dylan Lukachko bolts through a huge hole against the Tigers of Tunkhannock Friday night. Tony Callaio | For Sunday Dispatch

By Tom Robinson

For Sunday Dispatch

BY THE NUMBERS

Tannon Kraklio had a team-high nine tackles for Pittston Area, along with breaking up three passes, intercepting a pass and assisting a tackle. … Both teams showed balance. Tunkhannock had 143 yards rushing and 164 passing for 307 total to Pittston Area’s 139 rushing, 142 passing and 281 total. … Bryan Giambra caught three passes for 81 yards. … Mike Nocito was just 6-for-20 passing, but he had 130 yards and two touchdowns on those completions. … In addition to the four interceptions, the Patriots held the Tigers to 14-for-36 passing.

Reach the Sunday Dispatch newsroom at 570-655-1418 or by email at sd@psdispatch.com.

Reach the Sunday Dispatch newsroom at 570-655-1418 or by email at sd@psdispatch.com.