DALLAS TWP. — Chris Murray made converting turnovers into points just a little bit easier for the Dallas offense Friday night.
Murray not only scooped up a Pittston Area fumble midway through the first quarter, but he also fought off tacklers to return it 17 yards to the Patriots 3.
That was just the start of Dallas turning fumble recoveries into touchdowns a play later — twice in 12 seconds Friday night to produce the first two scores in a 38-7 victory over visiting Pittston Area in a Wyoming Valley Conference Class 4A Division game.
The teams were playing on even terms until Murray, Michael Starbuck, Dylan Schuster and David Schuster combined to quickly create a 14-0 lead with 5:49 left in the first quarter.
“The kids drill that all the time – to scoop and score,” Dallas coach Rich Mannello said. “We’ve got some speed out there on the perimeter.”
After his quick move to get to the ball and emerge from a pack, Murray showed off more power than speed.
“I probably could have gotten in if I didn’t cut it back, which I regret,” Murray said, “but it was a good play.”
On the next play, Starbuck kept on a bootleg around left end and spun out of the arms of two tacklers for a 3-yard touchdown.
When Pittston Area could not decide which return man would handle the kickoff, leading to a muff, Dylan Schuster recovered the loose ball.
Older brother David Schuster scored from there, taking a pass from Starbuck and running over a defender on the way to a 17-yard touchdown.
Pittston Area outgained Dallas in the first half, but the Mountaineers managed to add to their lead.
Kevin Krawczyk made a leaping catch while getting a foot down in the back of the end zone for an 18-yard touchdown pass from Walter Coles, giving Pittston Area its only points with 1:54 left in the first quarter.
Dallas then scored twice in the second quarter for a 24-7 halftime lead.
Lenny Kelley, a sophomore tailback who scored his seventh touchdown in less than 2½ games before leaving with an apparent right knee injury, scored from the 1.
Nate Maransky nailed a 43-yard field goal from the right hashmark on the last play of the first half.
“His kicking is changing the game,” Mannello said of Maransky, who was also 5-for-5 on extra points. “All we have to do is get inside the 40.”
With a lead to protect, Dallas turned to a ball-control attack in the second half.
David Schuster moved from fullback, where he had carried once for one yard in the first half, and carried 13 times for 74 yards, including a 7-yard touchdown. Danny Meuser took over from there and picked up 32 yards in one drive, culminating in his 2-yard touchdown.
The Mountaineers racked up statistical advantages of 12-2 in first downs, 135-65 in total offense and 17:47-6:13 in time of possession during the second half.
Dallas improved to 2-1, matching last year’s win total. Pittston Area fell to 1-2.