LAKE ARIEL – Nothing rattled Hunter Bednarcyzk.
Not the situation. Not the pressure. Not even the old coaching trick where Western Wayne's Butch Keller tried to ice him.
Knotted at 28, the Coughlin kicker split the uprights from 25 yards out with 15 seconds left on the scoreboard as the team left Western Wayne with a 31-28 victory.
Cool, calm and relaxed, Bednarcyzk lined up his steps with a rowdy crowd barking in the background.
He'd been in the situation before, knocking down a game-winner against Stroudsburg in the past.
"I just had to stay calm. It was a team effort; the snap, the hold and the kick. We just had to stay together," he said. "I was looking at it like it was just another field goal."
It would have been easy for the Crusaders to fall apart.
Coughlin (3-0) built a 28-7 lead in the second quarter behind four rushing touchdowns by tailback Zac Evans, who finished with more than 200 yards on the ground.
But Western Wayne rallied – and star back Robbie Siclari knotted the game at 28 in the third quarter on a short run.
Even some key turnovers at inopportune times didn't rattle the Crusaders. The biggest was when Coughlin dropped the ball on the turf deep in its own territory early in the fourth. But the defense, like it has done all year, stepped up and stopped the Wildcats on a fourth-down try from the 32.
It set up a time-consuming, game-winning drive.
The series, which ate up almost the entire quarter and totaled 18 plays, challenged head coach Ciro Cinti.
There was a fourth-and-5 from the Western Wayne 35 where he called a quarterback keeper and Tim Pilch got the first after taking a hard shot.
Had it not been for a quick time-out Pilch called right before the officials threw a flag for delay of game, Cinti might have punted.
Again, fourth-and-2, this time from the 19, and Cinti rolled the dice as Evans picked up the first on a 3-yard dive through the middle. Evans touched the ball 11 times in the 18-play series.
"We had some big decisions on fourth down, and we could have punted on the first fourth down," the Coughlin coach said. "But I said the heck with it, we are going. This is destiny and here it is right in front of us. I had all the faith in Hunter. He's a three-year kicker for us. He's done this in the past. He's a great kid."
Western Wayne (1-2) had no answer for Evans.
The back ran for 142 yards alone in the first half, and scored on touchdown runs of 1, 5, 1 and 21 yards to give the Wilkes-Barre school a 28-7 lead early in the second quarter in a game looking like it was destined for the mercy rule.
He finished with 215 yards on 37 carries.
"They kept giving me the ball, and I kept getting the yardage for the team. It's about the team and being a family," Evans said. "It shows our heart and determination. We could have folded when we lost the lead. We play as a family and we have faith in each other."
Not lost was the performance of Wildcat back Siclari, who also rushed for more than 200 yards – including three runs for more than 40 yards.
He ran for 160 yards in the first half, and finished with 218.
"You saw two great backs there," Keller said. "Last week, we were embarrassed and didn't show heart. This week, we had character. We got a little upset at ourselves at halftime. We started to pick it up in the second quarter, gaining some yards on offense. We knew who was going to get the ball, and they did it. There was no quit on either side. It was a good game to watch. We gave them too many points in the first half because we made too many mistakes. We had a shot to win it. It was just one of those things."
Coughlin 31, Western Wayne 28
COU – Zac Evans 1 run (Hunter Bednarczyk kick), 7:16
WW – Jayson Figueroa 13 run (Frank Johasz kick), 3:53
COU – Evans 5 run (Bednarczyk kick), 1:50
COU – Evans 1 run (Bednarczyk kick), 11:12
COU – Evans 21 run (Bednarczyk kick), 9:48
WW – Figueroa 25 run (Johasz kick), 9:26
WW – Robbie Siclari 1 run (kick missed), 0:26
WW – Siclari 2 run (Siclari run), 8:06
COU – Bednarczyk 25 field goal, 0:15
RUSHING – COU, Zac Evans 37-215, Tim Pilch 12-70, Paul Cole 6-34, Hunter Bednarczyk 2-16; WW, Robbie Siclari 29-218, Jayson Figueroa 7-73, Nikolai Pritcyk 4-12, Johnny Rhodes 3-(-27)
PASSING – COU, Pilch 2-3-0, 32 yards; WW, Rhodes 1-3-1, 8 yards
RECEIVING – COU, Corey Keen 2-37; WW, Siclari 1-8
INTS – COU, Keen
MISSED FGS – None