DALLAS — Recovery was the theme Saturday afternoon. Which team — Dallas or Hazleton Area —was going to make amends for a poor second half last week.
Hazleton Area did so by a tick more as the Cougars kept Dallas winless with a 13-7 victory in a Wyoming Valley Conference interdivisional football game.
Hazleton Area improved to 3-4 and with the victory prevented Wyoming Valley West (6-1) from clinching the WVC Division 4A title.Dallas fell to 0-7, suffering its eighth consecutive defeat dating back to last year’s District 2 Class 3A semifinal game at Berwick.
“It was a very big win,” Hazleton Area coach Jim Drumheller said. “If you look at our last four games, we played hard in 14 quarters. That second half against Crestwood … before you knew it we were down 20-7.”
Hazleton Area trailed 14-7 last Saturday at Crestwood and lost 48-7. A night earlier, Dallas led 17-0 midway through the third quarter against Pittston Area, but ended up losing 21-17.
So it was a matter of which team would respond to that adversity better. Hazleton Area did initially and it was decisive in the long run.
The Cougars went on a nine-play, 80-yard drive on their second possession of the game. Jeff Ochs capped it with with a 25-yard TD reception where he took a short slant pass and weaved through the middle to score.
Dallas then made two big mistakes that allowed Hazleton Area to build its lead to 13-0, First, the Mountaineers fumbled at the Hazleton Area 33-yard line and Zach Zuchoski recovered.
Hazleton Area’s ensuing drive appeared dead after Dallas linebacker Dave Simpson stopped a screen pass for a 4-yard loss on a fourth-down play. But a Dallas personal foul keep the ball in the Cougars’s hands and they scored on the next play on a 17-yard catch-and-run by Zuchoski.
Dallas scored right before halftime as new starting quarterback Matt Harrison made a pump fake and hit old starting quarterback Justin Mucha for a 30-yard touchdown. But in what has been a problem all season, the Mountaineers couldn’t find the end zone again.
A third-quarter drive was dashed by Zuchoski’s interception at the Hazleton Area 2 on a long pass. After Hazleton Area had a TD nullified by a penalty and an ensuing field goal blocked by Dallas linebacker Bill Gately, the Mountaineers took over at the Cougars 14. They moved to midfield before Zuchoski sniffed out a fake punt try.
Neither of Dallas’ final two possessions amounted to much.
“As far as my team goes, these guys have been positive every time they come to practice despite the record,” Dallas coach Bob Zaruta said. “I give them all the credit in the world to have that kind of resilience to stay positive and get better and improve.
“And we get better every week. We just haven’t found a way to win together as a team.”
Hazleton Area 13, Dallas 7
HA — Jeff Ochs 25 pass from Ryan Heller (kick failed), 2:07
HA — Zach Zukoski 17 pass from Heller (Tristan Williams kick), 6:53
DAL — Justin Mucha 30 pass from Matt Harrison (Aaron Napkora kick), 0:40
Team statistics`Haz Area`Dallas
RUSHING — Haz Area, Z.Zuchoski 21-128, Nick George 12-61, Heller 4-(minus-15), Ochs 1-18, EJ McCallum 1-7, Ed Bielen 1-3, team 1-(minus-2). Dallas, Logan Brace 2-0, Ryan Cheskiewicz 9-30, Harrison 6-(minus-18), Mucha 4-29, Dave Simpson 3-17.
PASSING — Haz Area, Heller 8-19-0-135. Dallas, Harrison 13-24-1-191, team 0-1-0-0.
RECEIVING — Haz Area, Z.Zuchoski 2-32, Oches 5-67, Gavin Kopczynskie 1-36. Dallas, Mucha 5-85, Omar Nijmeh 3-51, Brace 3-30, Jack Tomko 2-25.
INTERCEPTIONS — Haz Area. Z.Zuchoski 1-0.
MISSED FGs — Haz Area, 36BLK.