WILKES-BARRE TWP. – Entering Saturday afternoon’s game against unbeaten Hartwick, the King’s College football team hadn’t found the end zone since last year’s Mayor’s Cup victory.
So how did the Monarchs respond? With a school-record 65 points, topping the Hawks 65-48 and besting the previous high score in a game by two points.
After being shutout in Week 1 against Moravian, the young Monarchs had a bye last week, giving them some extra time to prepare for Hartwick (2-1), which racked up 77 points in its first two games. Coach Jeff Knarr knew his team needed to score points to compete with the high-powered offense, but didn’t know if it would be able to sustain the success.
But the offense did that and more, piling up 46 points in the first half, three points shy of the team mark for a half set in 2005 against Susquehanna.
“The one big thing was that – no one likes a bye in the second week – but the bye was good for us,” Knarr said. “We’re so young that it enabled us to have an extra week for getting these kids better at being a college football player.”
It was an all-around effort from the Monarchs (1-1 overall, 0-0 MAC) as six players combined for the points. Running back Jordan Downes led the team with three touchdowns, including one receiving. Fullback Titus Nelson ran in a pair of scores, while quarterbacks Gabe Boccella (rushing) and Tommy Klock (one rushing, one passing) combined for three touchdowns. Freshman kicker Jack Barreras also helped by nailing four field goals, one shy of the school record.
“The question in the back of your mind is ‘We put up zero, can we put up 40 or whatever number we need to put up?’” Knarr said. “For a young football to get punched in the mouth a few times today they responded the right way, in a positive way. That was awesome to see.”
The Monarchs needed little time to get the scoring started on the first possession of the game with a field goal, ending a four-play, 41-yard drive that lasted just 1:49 for a quick 3-0 lead.
The only time King’s trailed in the game was after Hartwick erased a 23-13 deficit at the end of the first quarter with a pair of touchdowns in a little more than three minutes to take a 27-23 advantage with 11:05 to play in the first half.
The King’s offense wasn’t intimidated, though, and put up 23 unanswered points to end the first 30 minutes of play up 46-27 at halftime.
The King’s defense also played a big part, and got some hardware. The unit broke out a championship belt for turnovers. Whenever a player created a turnover, he received the belt until the next player did something big.
Despite allowing the Hawks to gain 24 yards or more on eight plays and 460 total yards, five different players held the belt on Saturday.
The defense came up big, forcing four fumbles, recovering three of them, and picking off two passes. One of the fumbles recovered was by sophomore inside linebacker Yusef Wheeler, who returned it for a touchdown in the second quarter.
“Whenever somebody makes a big play, it makes them celebrate with each other,” Knarr said about the new celebration memento. “It unifies them. It excites them. It gets them jazzed up because no matter what may have happened, they rebound to find a way to make a play. … It builds that unity, that bond you need to make a defense strong to impose our will on people.”
Up next for King’s is the MAC opener when it hosts Stevenson for homecoming on Saturday.
King’s 65, Hartwick 48
KING’S – Barreras 24 field goal 13:11
KING’S – Downes 71 run (pass failed) 8:22
HART – Ballard 36 run (Roberts kick) 8:11
KING’S – Nelson 8 run (Barreras kick) 5:10
HART – Ballard 1 run (kick blocked) 2:08
KING’S – Bocella 60 run (Barreras kick) 1:21
HART – Macina 17 run (Roberts kick) 14:52
HART – Mucci 84 pass from Macina (Roberts kick) 11:05
KING’S – Klock 1 run (Barreras kick) 6:23
KING’S – Wheeler 10 fumble recovery (kick failed) 4:40
KING’S – Downes 12 pass from Klock (Barreras kick) 2:01
KING’S – Barreras 25 field goal 0:00
HART – Macina 8 run (Roberts kick) 11:13
KING’S – Barreras 25 field goal 6:26
HART – Macina 17 run (Roberts kick) 2:10
KING’S – Nelson 5 run (kick blocked) 14:18
KING’S – Barreras 34 field goal 11:07
HART – Mucci 15 pass from Macina (Roberts kick) 6:39
KING’S – Downes 1 run (Barreras kick) 3:00
Sacks by-yards lost`2-4`3-20
PASSING – HART, Macina 18-33-2-324. KING’S, Boccella 8-18-0-117, Klock 8-15-0-114.
RUSHING — HART, Ballard 17-101, Macina 11-35. KING’S, Downes 16-156, Boccella 6-90, Nelson 14-72, Klock 10-37, TEAM 1-(minus-2).
RECEIVING — HART, Darmetko 9-184, Mucci 4-115, Steinman 2-22, Torres 1-6, Ballard 2-(minus-3). KING’S, Constantino 5-97, Ringler 2-48, Downes 3-29, Nelson 2-27, Harvey 2-22, Garospe 1-6, Boccella 1-2.
INTERCEPTIONS – KING’S, Butler 1-14, Gilmore 1-0
MISSED FGs – none
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