WILKES-BARRE TWP. – For most of Jeff Knarr's three-year tenure as head coach at King's, he and his team have been on the wrong side of bad bounces turning into points.
On Saturday, the Monarchs finally had the breaks go their way in getting their first victory of the season, keeping first-year Misericordia winless with a 55-17 win at McCarthy Stadium. The 55 points are the second-most in school history, one shy of the record set in 2005. The 17 points for the Cougars more than double their season total.
"We battled the whole way and executed and the kids fought for their lives out there," Knarr said. "Definitely with a win, everyone feels good after a win."
The contest wasn't as easy as the score may have indicated for the Monarchs (1-3 overall, 1-2 MAC) as the Cougars (0-4, 0-3) shot themselves in the foot with mistakes leading to the first 21 points for King's.
Misericordia got the opening kickoff to begin the game. But the ball was muffed and taken out of the end zone to its 4. Then, the team's first play from scrimmage resulted in a fumble recovered by King's defensive lineman Pete Santorelli.
The Monarchs answered with a touchdown run by Kyle McGrath on their first play for a 7-0 lead just 21 seconds into the game.
Misericordia's second kick return was much better as Juwan Petties-Jackson returned it 61 yards to the King's 23. But Jeffrey Puckett was intercepted by Kris Matthews to end that threat and the Monarchs drove for another score, this time a 1-yard quarterback sneak by Tyler Hartranft, to go up 14-0 at the 7:41 mark.
The Cougars, with momentum on their side, moved the ball on their third possession, driving to the King's 30 before an offensive facemask penalty pushed them back and ruined the stanza. Their fourth drive resulted in a touchdown pass from Puckett to Shannon Johnson to trim the lead to 14-7 with 9:49 left in the second quarter. But an interception returned for a touchdown by the Monarchs' Evan Crisman turned the momentum back to King's with a 21-7 advantage.
"It was (huge) and it was good to see that when our kids got pushed a little bit we finally pushed back," Knarr added. "For the first time since we've been here, we got a pick-six to the house and that stemmed the momentum in our favor and we were able to get one at the end."
Misericordia coach Mark Ross said the mistakes are something his team needs to improve on, but he was pleased with the explosiveness his team showed.
"Offensively, I like the fact we hit some big plays down the field. That's something we haven't been doing and we need to do so the teams get off of our short passing game," he said. "So I think that was a plus. But I'm looking for more from an execution standpoint."
After the pick-six, the Monarchs dominated the rest of the game. Hartranft hooked up with Dan Kempa for a 73-yard scoring strike just before halftime for a 28-7 lead.
McGrath picked up his second rushing score to open the second half. The 18-yard run put King's ahead 35-7. That was part of a career day for the sophomore tailback, who piled up 226 yards on the ground on just 20 carries and three touchdowns. Overall, the Monarchs rushed for 341 yards.
Judens Goimbert also went over the century mark going for 103 and a TD on 12 rushes. McGrath capped off his afternoon with a 56-yard score.
"Our line was pushing them around all day and they weren't able to get into the backfield. I was able to get momentum going and hit the hole full speed," McGrath said.
Jackson, who started the season on defense for the Cougars, racked up 198 all-purpose yards, including a 40-yard receiving touchdown from Puckett (13-of-42, 193 yards) in the third quarter to trim the lead to 35-17. Misericordia's first field goal in school history was also notched when Steve Clemson nailed a 20-yarder in the third.
King's 55, Misericordia 17
K – Kyle McGrath 4 run (Kevin Mulvihill kick) 14:39
K – Tyler Hartranft 1 run (Mulvihill kick) 7:41
M – Shannon Johnson 9 pass from Jeffrey Puckett (Steve Clemson kick) 9:49
K – Evan Crisman 28 interception return (Mulvihill kick) 2:08
K – Dan Kempa 73 pass from Hartranft (Mulvihill kick) :39
K – McGrath 18 run (Mulvihill kick) 10:43
M – Clemson 26 field goal 6:58
M – Juwan Petties-Jackson 40 pass from Puckett (Clemson kick) 3:16
K – McGrath 56 run (kick failed) 2:56
K – Judens Goimbert 10 run (Mulvihill kick) :21
K – Duron Williams 3 run (Mulvihill kick) 1:09
|Sacks -Yards Lost||2-14||4-24|
RUSHING – MISERICORDIA, Robin Custodio 11-38, Jeffrey Puckett 9-21, Benny Delgado 2-7, Cody Lamoreaux 5-6, Chris Washo 2-(minus-2), TEAM 2-(minus-23). KING'S, Kyle McGrath 20-226, Judens Goimbert 12-103, Duron Williams 4-15, Tyler Hartranft 4-(minus-3).
PASSING – MISERICORDIA, Jeffrey Puckett 17-34-2-193, Chris Washo 0-0-0-0. KING'S, Tyler Hartranft 5-9-0-113, Tom Hehre 1-1-0-12.
RECEIVING – MISERICORDIA, Paul Brace 7-68, Shannon Johnson 5-43, Mike Barber 2-27, Juwan Petties-Jackson 1-40, Kurt Kowalski 1-15, Cody Lamoreaux 1-0. KING'S, Matt Henry 2-15, Dan Kempa 1-73, Adam Kudlacik 1-14, Slade Eigenmann 1-12, Judens Goimbert 1-11.
INTERCEPTIONS – KING'S, Kris Matthews, Evan Crisman
MISSED FIELD GOALS – KING'S, Mulvihill (20, WL)