HAZLETON — If there were doubts after those first three games, they're gone now.
Dallas' 0-3 start is well in the rearview after a second straight shutout put the Mountaineers right back in the district playoff hunt. And the latest, a 33-0 win at Hazleton Area on Friday, followed the same route – a balanced offense backed by a swarming defense.
The Mountaineers (4-3) gave up just 140 yards to the Cougars, with half of that coming on a fourth-quarter drive with the game already decided.
Hazleton Area (1-6) crossed midfield just twice and finished with six first downs. Dallas also came up with two turnovers.
During their four-game win streak, the Mounts have trounced opponents by a 116-14 margin.
"Our defense right now is playing very good football," first-year coach Bob Zaruta said. "Two shutouts in a row, two games before that (giving up) seven points each … and they could have been shutouts as well.
"The last two weeks have just been outstanding play by our defense. Real domination. We're expecting it to continue."
Zaruta credited the emergence of his running game for getting things turned around four weeks ago with a win over Coughlin.
On Friday, it was quarterback Ryan Zapoticky leading the offense with his arm and his legs.
Zapoticky threw a pair of deep touchdowns in the second quarter to break the game open, hitting Jason Simonovich on a blown coverage for a 43-yard score, and then connecting with Darik Johnson on a pinpoint 31-yard toss down the left sideline for another.
"Just a big-time throw," Cougars coach Jim Drumheller said.
Throughout the night Zapoticky bought himself time by moving well in and out of the pocket. He also finished with a game-high 70 rushing yards.
"He's such a competitor," Zaruta said of his quarterback. "He makes great decisions. When you put it all together, I wouldn't want to be the defensive coach against him."
Kris Roccograndi added a pair of first-half touchdowns for Dallas to give a 26-0 lead headed into the locker room.
Second-string quarterback Justin Mucha closed out the scoring in the third quarter on a 5-yard bootleg into the end zone.
"That's a good football team we played. That's a hot football team we played," Drumheller said.
"They're getting their momentum going. To be quite honest, we couldn't match them physically."
Dallas 33, Hazleton Area 0
DAL — Kris Roccograndi 37 run (Ryan Kozloski kick), 2:00
DAL — Jason Simonovich 43 pass from Ryan Zapoticky (Kozloski kick), 10:41
DAL — Darik Johnson 31 pass from Zapoticky (kick failed), 7:53
DAL — Roccograndi 2 run (run failed), 0:22
DAL — Justin Mucha 5 run (Kozloski kick), 9:51
|Team Statistics||Dallas||Haz Area|
RUSHING – DAL, Ryan Zapoticky 11-70, Kris Roccograndi 13-62, Justin Mucha 7-21, Logan Brace 5-20, Bill Gately 3-8, TEAM 2-(minus-1), Tom Hall 1-(minus-3); HAZ, Zach Zukoski 4-58, Jeff Fendrick 12-37, Nick George 5-15, Julius Ward 3-9, Glenn Zukoski 1-4, Joey Bayzick 1-(minus-1), TEAM 1-(minus-5)
PASSING – DAL, Zapoticky 9-11-1-163; HAZ, Ward 5-15-1-23
RECEIVING – DAL, Darik Johnson 4-101, Jason Simonovich 2-65, Roccograndi 2-2, Ryan Kozloski 1-(minus-5)
INTS – DAL, Kozloski; HAZ, Dan Bove
MISSED FGS – DAL, 46 (S)