HAZLETON – There was a buzz surrounding Hazleton Area that had not been felt during this decade.
The turf was brand new. Fans showed up en masse on a temperate Friday night. The student section was charged up. Five parachuters even dropped in on the pre-game festivities.
And, of course, there was the defensive duo of Jared Cunningham and Matt Fisher.
The Hazleton Area stymied the Pottsville offense en route to a 35-7 victory in the season opener. The Cougars finished with three unanswered touchdowns to finish off the Crimson Tide.
Cunningham and Fisher combined for six sacks for 37 yards. More importantly, they kept Pottsville quarterback Damon Yost on his toes throughout the game.
Offensively, Damon Horton stood out with three touchdowns and 200-plus total yards. Horton rushed for 134 yards on 17 carries with two scores. He also caught four passes for 68 yards with a TD reception.
Horton ended a back-and-forth scoreless affair with a 13-yard sweep for the first touchdown on Hazleton Area’s new turf with less than two minutes remaining in the first quarter.
Cunningham stalled a Crimson Tide drive that gave way to the Cougars’ second touchdown. On a third-and-3 at the Tide’s 35, the senior bulldozed his way through the offensive line for a 10-yard sack. After a short punt, Horton went 35 yards and hopped over a defender on the ground on the ensuing play.
Pottsville showed its only signs of life on the next possession, cutting the deficit to 14-7. Corey Holobetz caught a 28-yard touchdown pass with a defender’s hands in his face with 2:41 left in the first half.
Sparky Wolk evaded three defenders on his way to the end zone. Wolk’s 19-yard touchdown doubled the Cougars lead with 96 seconds before halftime.
Wolk completed 10-of -18 passes for 201 yards with a touchdown.
Hazleton Area’s defense kept Pottsville’s offense from gaining any traction in the second half. They were able to keep Pottsville from scoring after a botched punt gave the visitors possession in the red zone.
Hazleton Area 35, Pottsville 7
H — Damon Horton 13 run (Will Barrientos kick), 1:54
H — Horton 35 run (Barrientos kick), 5:18
P — Corey Holobetz 28 pass from Damon Yost (Connor Williams kick), 2:41
H — Sparky Wolk 19 run (Barrientos kick), 1:36
H — Horton 10 pass from Wolk (Barrientos kick), 7:21
H — Lance Johnson 1 run (Barrientos kick), 2:24
RUSHING — POT, Justice Minor 18-110, Yost 12-(minus-29), Bobby Walchak 4-14 . HAZ, Horton 17-134, Wolk 10-53, Johnson 8-29, Dallas Solomon 1-1
PASSING — POT, Yost 5-21-0-79. HAZ Wolk 10-18-1-201
RECEIVING — POT, Mason Barnes 2-29, Walchak 1-17, Holobetz 1-28, Kyle Schenk 1-10. HAZ David Smith 2-62, Jacob Hunsinger 3-41, Horton 4-66, Johnson 1-12
INTERCEPTIONS — POT, Barnes 1-0
MISSED FGs — HAZ, Barrientos 1-37
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