TUNKHANNOCK — On Friday night it looked early on that the Tunkhannock Tigers were once again going to fall in defeat and be kept out of the win column for a fourth straight week in a row.
However, with a fast and furious comeback from an early 12-0 first-half hole, the Tigers came roaring back and held on late to tame the Coughlin Crusaders’ late-game charge, as they captured their first win with a 21-19 triumph.
Coughlin got out of the gates lightning quick as speedy standout junior wide receiver Rafael McCoy took a simple pitch in the backfield on his team’s first offensive possession and sprinted to a 75-yard touchdown run just 88 seconds into the game to give his squad a 6-0 advantage.
The Crusaders built on that lead with 7:54 left in the second quarter as junior signal caller Garrett Wardle hooked up with McCoy on a 26-yard scoring strike for a 12-0 advantage over the Tigers. However, by missing an extra point on their first score and then failing on the two- point conversion on their second scoring play, the Crusaders would end up losing by those mere two points that they missed out on early in the contest.
Tunkhannock would show tremendous resiliency as just 21 seconds later tailback Gavin D’Amato took advantage of the good field position after a big 45-yard kickoff return and score a 35-yard touchdown run on the very next play to cut the deficit to just 12-7 early in the second quarter.
Tunkhannock built on and seized the game’s momentum going into the locker room at halftime as it went on a nice long drive led by a crucial 41-yard reception from speedy wideout Garrett Hopkins that brought them down the field and eventually culminated in a 1-yard scoring plunge by Zach Rogers to give the Tigers a 14-12 lead with just 19 seconds to go in the second stanza.
After a gritty and physical scoreless third quarter of play, Tunkhannock was trying to run out the clock and preserve its slim two-point advantage late in the fourth quarter. The Tigers would do that and much more,as they got the extra cushion they needed when Hopkins took the pitch and sprinted down the sidelines for a 51-yard touchdown run with only 3:28 left in regulation.
Coughlin stormed back for a solid scoring drive of its own that led to a 15-yard jump ball touchdown catch in the end zone by senior Marquis Silva thrown by Wardle with perfect accuracy and touch with just 1:23 left in the ball game.
However, after failing to recover the onside kick attempt and allowing a crucial first down on Tunkhannock’s next offensive drive, the Crusaders’ valiant comeback attempt would fall just short.
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