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