In an amazing comeback finish, the Tunkhannock Tigers pulled out the win over an exhausted Pittston Area team, 35-32, in the annual Coach Charlie Shaw Memorial Game.
Up 32-7 early in the fourth quarter, the Patriots looked to have the game all but locked up.
Tunkhannock (2-1) never quit, and took advantage of a tired Pittston core, piling up score after score.
“We woke up,” said Tunkhannock head coach Mike Marabell. “We didn’t play very good football in the first three quarters, but the team never quit and fought until the end.”
The teams traded scores in the first quarter, with the Tigers scoring less than two minutes after the Patriots.
Pittston (1-2) racked up 25 straight points before Tunkhannock fashioned their comeback.
The Tigers began the climb back into the game with a one-yard hand off from quarterback Jack Chilson to Alex Dailey at 9:08.
After completing the PAT, Jaxson Montross nailed a squib kick and the Tigers regained possession on the 15-yard line. Two plays later, Chilson gave the ball to Gavin D’Amato for the eight yard run, scoring at 8:37.
Montross kicked the score up to 32-21.
After three straight incomplete passes, Chilson connected with Riley Jones for a huge 12-yard gain. With a little help from Pittston’s penalties, the Tigers were able to keep possession of the ball and dominate the field.
Chilson faked a hand off to D’Amato on the 28 before running his route into the end zone.
With 5:05 left in the fourth, the Tigers were down by four in front of an electric home crowd.
Players on the Tunkhannock sideline were encouraging the crowd, dressed in the night’s theme of all white, to get on their feet and take part in the moment.
After three straight incomplete passes by Pittston quarterback Mike Nocito, the Patriots forced a turnover on downs. The Tigers took over on their own 27 yard line.
Jhamal Zacharias got the ball from Chilson for an 11- yard gain, as Patriots players bounced off him.
On the next play, Chilson and Zacharias connected for another 10-yard advance.
“We came out at half time and tore it up,” said Zacharias. “No one had their heads down. We rode the momentum, it was amazing. We did this for Coach Shaw.”
Marabell said that in the locker room, Zacharias approached him and told him he wanted to be a part of the offensive game, he wanted to be in there.
“So we got him in,” Marabell added with a grin.
Tunkhannock scored the go-ahead touchdown with 1:05 remaining in the game, and after another Montross kick, secured the 35-32 lead.
Using the clock as their friend, the Tigers forced the tired Patriots into bad decisions, leading to a game-saving interception by Tyrese Konen.
Marabell said of the sophomore, “We moved Ty to the linebacker position to step in for our injured Alec Seboe. He did phenomenal, for not having played that position in two years.”
“That was unbelievable,” Konen said. “I saw the ball, grabbed it, and ran. No one on this team ever had a doubt or gave up.”
Pittston seemed gassed at the end of the third, and the Tunkhannock coaches were ready for it.
Marabell explained, “That is the point of the no huddle offense. It is designed to tire our opponents out and make it harder for them to think.”
The Tigers win was extra special, as they are now able to have their name added to the Coach Shaw Memorial Plaque, an accomplishment six years in the making.
“The last time Tunkhannock was on the winning side of the plaque was in 2013, with a 41-0 win over Montrose. Now we are back,” said Marabell.
Tunkhannock is on the road next week, heading to Honesdale for a 7 p.m. kickoff with the Hornets.
Tunk. 35, Pittston 32
Tunkhannock 7 0 0 28 35
Pittston 14 6 6 6 32
PA Nocito 14 pass to Krawczyk (Soy kick) 4:21
TA J. Chilson 1 run (Montross kick) 2:55
PA Nocito 43 pass to Krawczyk (Soy kick)1:10
PA Nocito 35 pass Higgins (Soy kick blocked) 4:33
TA Montross 43 field goal failed 9:55
PA Nocito 11 run (failed 2-pt conversion) 5:30
PA Lukachko 13 run (Soy kick failed) 11:06
TA Dailey 1 run (Montross kick) 9:08
TA D’Amato 8 run (Montross kick) 8:37
TA Chilson 28 run (Montross kick) 5:05
TA Frisco 6 run (Montross kick) 1:05
First Downs 18 19
Rush-Att-Yds 17-129 28-134
Comp-Att-Int 19-34 23-36-1
Passing Yards 276 274
Total Yards 405 408
Fumbles-Lost 1-1 1-1
Penalties 7-55 14-80
Rushing: TA- D’Amato 8-79; Chilson 5-31; Frisco 2-15; B. Chilson 1-3; Dailey 1-1; PA- Nocito 5-36; Lukachko 10-34; George 5-26; Russell 3-18; Krawczyk 1-5; Anastasi 1-5; team 3-10.
Passing: TA- J. Chilson 19-34-276; PA Nocito 23-36-274.
Receiving: TA- Frisco 8-101; Prebola 5-75; Lord 2-42; Zacharias 3-35; Jones 1-18; D’Amato 1-5. PA: Krawczyk 9-139; Higgins 2-42; Anastasi 3-39; Lukachko 3-19; George 2-15 Russell 1-11; Spindler 1-9.