DALLAS ‚?? The violent wind blew the heavy rain nearly sideways at times Saturday afternoon. Fans held tightly to umbrellas, some of which blew inside out when greeted with bigger gusts.
Certainly, the conditions ‚?? as poor as they have been for high school football in quite some time ‚?? gave Dallas a built-in excuse for the lack of offense. After all, the Mountaineers like to pass, and throws tend to sail or die in this type of weather.
First-year coach Bob Zaruta, though, cited other reasons for the 28-7 loss to Abington Heights. The reasons often mentioned by other coaches after losses ‚?? mistakes and missed opportunities.
‚??It probably affected our passing game more (than Abington),‚?Ě Zaruta said, ‚??but we had trouble running the ball, too. I wouldn‚??t use the weather as any excuse.‚?Ě
One big mistake came on the ensuing kickoff after Dallas took a 7-0 lead on a 31-yard touchdown pass from Ryan Zapoticky to Darik Johnson at 2:56 of the first quarter.
Abington kick returner Nate Hollander dropped the kickoff at the 7-yard line, picked up the ball and blasted through the heart of Dallas‚?? special teams for a touchdown.
Another came late in the third quarter. Abington receiver J.C. Show got past the Dallas secondary, hauling in a 55-yard touchdown pass for a 21-7 lead. The throw by quarterback Dante Pasqualichio came at one of the brief periods where the wind wasn‚??t ripping through the stadium.
The missed opportunities for Dallas (0-2) came mainly in the second quarter with Abington leading 14-7.
Abington (2-0) fumbled away the ball on three consecutive drives, all inside its territory.
The first fumble popped into the arms of Dallas linebacker Kris Roccograndi in the backfield, but he was unable to elude the only Comet between him and the end zone as he tried to get his footing on the soggy field. That drive ended at the Abington 32 on downs.
The Mountaineers pulled off a successful fake punt after the second Abington fumble. Successful until the Comets recovered a fumble at the end of the run.
An interception by Pasqualichio at the goal line erased the possible damage of Abington‚??s third fumble.
‚??We haven‚??t been able to make the big plays when we need to,‚?Ě Zaruta said. ‚??We‚??re not seizing the opportunities. They‚??re there, but we‚??re not taking advantage. A lot of times, we create the situation, but unfortunately we haven‚??t been able to cash in.‚?Ě
And Abington did to score its last touchdown with 7:38 left in the fourth quarter. The Comets took advantage of a short punt and Dallas‚?? inability to sniff out a screen pass on a fourth-and-7 on the 11-play, 32-yard drive.
‚??The weather is one thing you can‚??t control,‚?Ě Abington coach Joe Repshis said. ‚??We came down here today focused on playing a football game knowing the conditions were the way there were. We wanted to be able to control the ball, run the ball, kind of quicken the game and get some points on the board and put them in position where they had to play from behind.‚?Ě
The Comets did that, putting pressure on Dallas to throw in the elements. And while Zapoticky and receivers Johnson and Jason Simonovich make up one of the WVC‚??s more potent passing attacks, the trio couldn‚??t find continuity. Zapoticky finished 8-of-17 for 126 yards, Simonovich, the Mountaineers‚?? top returning pass catcher from last year, snagged a 6-yard pass on the third play of the game but nothing afterward.
Abington Heights 28, Dallas 7
DAL ‚?? Darik Johnson 31 pass from Ryan Zapoticky (Ryan Kozloski kick), 2:56
AH ‚?? Nate Hollander 93 kickoff return (Ryan Patrick kick), 2:40
AH ‚?? Dante Pasqualichio 2 run (Patrick kick), 10:46
AH ‚?? J.C. Show 55 pass from Pasqualichio (Patrick kick), 2:32
AH ‚?? Jerry Langan 1 run (Patrick kick), 7:38
RUSHING ‚?? Abington, Quinn Karam 14-56, Pasqualichio 6-7, Sean Rock 3-12, Langan 6-21, Sean Gilhooley 1-0, Alosha Fox 2-2, team 4-(minus-8). Dallas, Kris Roccograndi 18-36, Zapoticky 15-27, Johnson 1-(minus-1), team 2-(minus-37).
PASSING ‚?? Abington Pasqualichio 5-11-0-87. Dallas, Zapoticky 8-17-1-126, Johnson 0-1-0-0-0.
RECEIVING ‚?? Abington, Simon Williams 1-(minus-3), Karam 1-13, Hollander 1-7, Show 1-55, Langan 1-15.
INTS ‚?? Abington, Pasqualichio.
MISSED FGS ‚?? none.
Weather forced the postponement of Saturday night‚??s Holy Cross at Holy Redeemer football game scheduled for Wilkes-Barre Memorial Stadium. The game will be played at 6:30 p.m. Monday at the stadium.
Also on Monday, Williamsport will travel to Mifflin County to complete a game suspended Friday night due to lightning. The resumption will begin at 5 p.m. with Mifflin County leading 27-6 in the second quarter.