WILKES-BARRE — All four GAR second half drives seemed remarkably similar. A GAR run for a short gain on first down. A screen pass to set up a third and short situation. And then Hanover Area pounced on the Grenadier run game for two straight plays.
Turnover on downs.
Hanover Area stopped GAR on four consecutive fourth-down attempts en route to a 22-14 victory Friday at Wilkes-Barre Memorial Stadium. The four stops kept the Grenadiers without a first down throughout the entire second half.
“GAR played us hard on offense,” Hanover Area offensive coordinator Brian McDermott said. “We really challenged the defense to step up and make some plays. They really came out good in the second half. Hats off to GAR. They took it to us in the first half.
“They held a good GAR team to 14 points. We’re happy about that.”
Fittingly, a fourth-down conversion ended up being the deciding factor for the Hawkeyes on offense. Tied at 14 apiece late in the third quarter, Hanover Area came two chain links short of a first down at the GAR 2-yard line. Quarterback Jake Peters called his own number and barreled into the end zone for the game-winning touchdown with 2:42 remaining.
The momentum began to turn late in the second quarter after the Hawkeyes were unable to stop the Grenadier offense for the first 23 minutes of the game. The Hawkeyes’ Stephen Morgan intercepted a downfield pass in the red zone that put an end to a four-minute long GAR drive and sent the game even at the halftime break.
The first half pitted two evenly matched offenses. Isaiah Taylor put the Hawkeyes ahead in the first quarter on a 32-yard touchdown, dodging four tackles to put the Hawkeyes on top by six.
“We really struggled to be consistent on offense,” McDermott said. “We showed flashes of greatness but overall we couldn’t find our offense.”
GAR’s Rashaun Mathis rushed 24 yards for a touchdown to tie the game at six apiece. The Grenadiers converted an onside kick and marched downfield to score on a 2-yard Rich Sickler run. A Mathis two-point conversion on a fake handoff put the Grenadiers ahead 14-6.
“Our kids played their rear ends tonight,” GAR coach Paul Wiedlich Jr. said. “I’m proud of them. It’s a shame that we came up short again. It’s just been really tough.”
Taylor added his second touchdown of the game 90 seconds later. He finished with 152 yards on 22 carries.
Hanover Area iced the victory in the waning minutes of two key runs by Elido Veras. After two consecutive penalties pushed the Hawkeyes to a first-and-long situation, Veras gained 23 yards on three carries, including a fourth down run that clinched the win.
The Hawkeyes welcomed the return of Ya’Sir Jones from injury. Jones had 42 yards and converted a two-point conversion on a halfback toss.
Hanover Area 22, GAR 14
HAN — Isaiah Taylor 32 run (kick missed), 5:45
GAR — Rashaun Mathis 24 run (kick missed), :51
GAR — Rich Sickler 2 run (Mathis run), 8:16
HAN — Taylor 11 run (Taylor run), 6:48
HAN — Jake Peters 2 run (Stephen Morgan pass from Ya’Sir Jones), 2:42
Team statistics`Han Area`GAR
RUSHING — HAN, Mike Kremenic 5-39, Taylor 22-152, Y. Jones 5-42, Elido Veras 3-23, Peters 2-3, TEAM 1-(minus-6). GAR, Mathis 17-39, Sickler 16-51, Tyler Griffin 1-2, Kyle Merth 4-17, Korey Welkey 1-17.
PASSING — HAN, Peters 1-11-1-14. GAR, Mathis 8-12-1-38.
RECEIVING — HAN, Veras 1-14. GAR, Sickler 1-5, Griffin 1-2, Rashaun Jackson 2-9, Justin Crosby 3-12, Garry Kroll 1-5.
INTERCEPTIONS — HAN, Morgan 1-2. GAR, Jackson 1-0.
MISSED FGs — None