After Honesdale scored four touchdowns on its first five possessions, the Hornets looked poised to run away with a victory Friday night, but Tunkhannock turned a potential blowout into a slugfest in the second half, pulling to within five with just over two minutes left in the game.
However, Honesdale erased any hope of a comeback by scoring its fourth touchdown of 50 yards or more on the night to hang on for a 43-31 win over the Tigers in a nonleague contest at Tunkhannock Memorial Stadium.
“It was a battle royale, that’s for sure,” Honesdale head coach Mike Jurkowski said. “Tunkhannock came at us the whole game and their record doesn’t show how tough they really are. We just wanted to score more points than they did — that was the ultimate goal and our kids worked hard to do it. Our backs ran really hard and we did some good things, but we also made a lot of mistakes to keep them in it.”
Indeed, the Hornets committed more than 150 yards in penalties, which helped Tunkhannock remain in the game.
But, four of Honesdale’s six touchdowns came on the ground and on big yardage plays en route to 373 rushing yards for the game.
The first came on a 53 yard run from Garyn Barnes to give the Hornets a 7-0 lead with 7:27 remaining in the first quarter before Honesdale went to the air for its second score.
After an interception on Tunkhannock’s first play of its second drive, Ethan Dunn found Andy Carroll wide open behind the defense on 3-and-19 for a 56-yard touchdown to make it 14-0.
The Tigers responded with an aerial assault of their own on the next drive, as senior Garrett Hopkins reeled a 17-yard pass from junior Zach Rogers, who then found senior Logan Cywinski for 25 more to put Tunkhannock on the 15.
Rogers then executed a screen pass to Hopkins, who made a tackler miss and drove through the defense before diving into the end zone for a 14-yard touchdown that cut the deficit in half near the end of the opening quarter.
Tunkhannock’s defense then forced a punt after a huge sack from Nate Shirtz, and a 55-yard pass from Rogers to Hopkins helped set up a 10-yard touchdown run from Cywinski to tie the game with 8:38 left in the half.
Honesdale (2-1) ended up pinned at its own 1-yard line after the ensuing kickoff and a penalty, but Carroll seized back the momentum by barrelling through the line and racing all the way to the end zone for a 99-yard touchdown run and the lead.
The Hornets benefitted from another interception and scored again on their next drive, even after Carroll had another touchdown called back from a holding penalty.
Down 29-14 after the half, the Tigers got back on the board by benefitting from their own interception, courtesy of Hopkins.
Senior Billy Prebola drilled a 33-yard field goal at with 1:57 left in the third, but Honesdale would quickly answer in just over a minute.
Barnes had an 85-yard kickoff return called back on a hold, though still found the endzone just two plays later from 24-yards out to give Honesdale a 19 point lead.
The Tigers (0-3) remained resilient in the final quarter, however.
Freshman Jack Chilson, who entered into his first varsity game at quarterback in the second half, found junior Jake Stephens for 33 yards before Cywinski ran in from the 1-yard line to cut the score to 36-24 with 4:48 left in the game.
After a Honesdale punt and Hopkins’ return to the Hornets’ 26, Chilson again found Stephens on the first play of the drive on a stop-and-go route from 26-yards out to pull Tunkhannock to within five with 2:30 left in the game.
Once again, however, Carroll provided the big play and was able to find a hole on third down that led to a 61-yard touchdown to seal the win.
The Tigers certainly had their chances in the final quarter as well, but turned the ball over on downs on the Honesdale 5 and 16 yardline on the two possessions before Cywinski scored.
“The season’s not over,” Tunkhannock head coach Jan Cechak said. “We have a long haul ahead, but the games are winnable. We can’t keep spotting teams 14-point leads. The kids honestly haven’t quit. We just need to make our own breaks and keep working hard.”
After getting bottled up for much of the first half, Cywinski still managed his third 100-plus rushing game of the season.
Hopkins also put together a solid performance with 95 receiving yards and 83 return yards on special teams.
The game was also the Coach Charlie Shaw Memorial Game, held in memory of coach Shaw, who passed away in 2008.
Honesdale will have its name and winning score inscribed on the game’s plaque, located in the Jerry Frey weight room at Tunkhannock Area High School.
Honesdale 43, Tunkhannock 31
HON 14 15 7 7 — 43
TUN 7 7 3 14 — 31
HON - Barnes 53 run (Roman kick), 7:27.
HON - Carroll 56 pass from Dunn (Roman kick), 5:36.
TUN - G. Hopkins 14 pass from Z. Rogers (B. Prebola kick), 1:51.
TUN - L. Cywinski 10 run (Prebola kick), 8:38.
HON - Carroll 99 run (Carroll run), 4:48.
HON - LoBasso 33 pass from Dunn (Roman kick), 1:35.
TUN - Prebola 33 field goal, 1:57.
HON - Barnes 24 run (Roman kick), :47.
TUN - Cywinski 1 run (Prebola kick), 4:48.
TUN - J. Stephens 26 pass from J. Chilson (Prebola kick), 2:30.
HON - Carroll 61 run (Roman kick), :43.
First Downs 15 17
Rushes-Yards 45-373 28-124
Comp-Att-Int 4-9-1 15-30-3
Passing Yards 139 228
Total Yards 512 352
Fumbles-Lost 1-1 1-0
Penalties-Yards 18-155 8-60
Rushing: HON - A. Carroll 25-256, 2 TDs; G. Barnes 10-108, 2 TDs; B. Freiermuth 6-14; E. Dunn 4-(-5). TUN - L. Cywinski 25-129, 2 TDs; J. Chilson 2-2; Z. Rogers 1-(-7).
Passing: HON - E. Dunn 4-9-1, 139, 2 TDs. TUN - Z. Rogers 6-10-2, 118, 1 TD; J. Chilson 9-20-1, 110, 1 TD.
Receiving: HON - A. Carroll 1-56, 1 TD; J. LoBasso 1-33, 1 TD; N. Vlacich 1-29; B. Freiermuth 1-12. TUN - G. Hopkins 6-95, 1 TD; J. Stephens 3-65, 1 TD; E. Turner 4-37; L. Cywinski 1-25; S. Rice 1-6.