MILFORD — If it weren’t for the third quarter, maybe things would have been different.
Trailing by just a touchdown at halftime, Hazleton Area had a chance to tie the game or take the lead. All the Cougars had to do was stop Delaware Valley on its opening possession.
But they couldn’t get the job done.
The Warriors marched 60 yards down the field in just four plays, all on the back of running back Ryan Obiso. The senior punched it in from the 15 to put Delaware Valley up two scores. It was his second touchdown of the game and first of three in the third quarter, carrying the Warriors past Hazleton Area 31-3 to secure the District 2 Class 6A title.
“They took it to us. They’re good, no question about it,” Hazleton Area head coach Mike Brennan said. “Obviously (Obiso’s) a great runner. I love the way he plays the game of football. Their offensive line’s very physical. They get after it. They do a lot of things very, very well and they wore us (down), certainly, in the second half tonight. No doubt about that.”
While the Cougars had trouble stopping Obiso and the Warriors in the third, they couldn’t get much going on offense either.
Hazleton Area registered just one positive play in the quarter — a Sparky Wolk 18-yard pass to Jacob Hunsinger — while turning the ball over three times. Wolk was sacked three times as well, including a strip sack that set the Warriors up with a first-and-goal on the 3.
Obiso sprinted into the end zone on the first play of the drive to put Delaware Valley up 24-3 with 3:46 remaining in the third. It was Obiso’s second score of the quarter.
“I think that was the real tale, (that) their defense played so well,” Brennan said. “They ran to the ball so well. We couldn’t get anything established at all. We struggled.”
The Cougars’ third-quarter miscues didn’t help their case either.
Delaware Valley scored 14 points off of turnovers. To pair with the Obiso touchdown a play after the strip sack, the Warriors blocked a punt from Hazleton’s Area’s 19. The Cougars recovered the ball on their own 7.
Obiso scored a play later to put Delaware Valley up 31-3 with 25 seconds remaining in the quarter.
“I guess the second half we came a little loose,” Cougars standout Adrian Otero said. “I don’t know what happened. I guess we put our head down. It is what it is.”
While the Cougars fell short of winning the district title, Otero, a senior running back and linebacker, was more than pleased with the season as a whole. He was a part of a senior class that provided the Cougars their first postseason win since 2014, having beaten Williamsport the week prior.
With eight underclassmen starting on both sides of the ball Friday night, Otero and the rest of the seniors have left the program in good hands.
“The season was fun. Everyone thought we were going to go down, then we came up 7-4,” Otero said. “This season was an accomplishment, I think. Since all the seasons we’ve had since my first year — 1-9 then 7-4 — this is it right here.”
Delaware Valley 31, Hazleton Area 3
DV — Ryan Obiso 2 run (Noah Sorrell kick), 7:51
HAZ — Gabe Fabian 18-yard field goal, 3:53
DV — Sorrell 31-yard field goal, 0:00
DV — Obiso 15 run (Sorrell kick), 10:48
DV — Obiso 3 run (Sorrell kick), 3:46
DV — Obiso 7 run (Sorrell kick), 0:25