Crusaders hold off Warriors
coughlin 17, wyoming area 14
WILKES-BARRE — With quarterback Garrett Wardle now taking snaps for Coughlin, the Crusaders have the benefit of two threats in their backfield.
Running back Jake Cole can take carries as well as former quarterback Vincent Todd, who possesses track speed that can get him to the outside. When Coughlin wasn’t handing the ball off to Todd on Saturday night, it often faked such a carry to get the Wyoming Area defense out of position for a Cole run.
Even if the Warriors knew Cole was getting the ball, though, they needed all the help they could get to bring him down.
Cole’s bruising style led to two touchdowns for Coughlin, which had a number of fourth downs go its way throughout its Week 4 matchup. An early field goal from Jeff Mondulick made the difference as the Crusaders held off a late Warriors rally for a 17-14 win at WilkesBarre Memorial Stadium.
“When you have the luxury of having Jake Cole and Vincent Todd, you put the ball game in those kids’ hands,” Coughlin coach Ciro Cinti said. “Jake was out there cramping, he didn’t care. The kid’s just a fighter; he’s a competitor.”
Cole ran through arm tackles, initiated contact and extended runs all night as he picked up 186 yards and two scores on 23 carries. His final score came with 2:44 to play, when Cinti called his number again on fourthand-2 from 13 yards out.
The Warriors (1-3) didn’t have a chance at bringing him down when he got past the right tackle with a full head of steam. They couldn’t catch him earlier in the game, either, when he burst through the middle and out-ran the secondary in a race to the end zone on a 57-yard score.
“The kid’s a four-year starter for me. I wish I had him a fifth and sixth year, believe me,” Cinti said.
Despite Cole’s night, Coughlin (2-2) needed much of the night to go its way to take the win.
The Crusaders were about to go three-and-out on its opening drive when an illegal block near the backfield bailed them out on a punt.
They didn’t waste the second chance, as Cole and Todd moved them into the red zone. Todd’s 13-yard run got Coughlin inside the 5, but the Warriors stuffed Cole on three runs, and a false start on a fourth-down QB sneak forced Mondulick to convert a 23-yard field goal instead.
Wyoming Area crossed midfield on its second drive and went for it on fourthand-2 from the 44, but the Crusaders line made a stop inches short of a first down. Cole went 53 yards to paydirt on the next snap.
Down 10-7, the Warriors moved to the 15 when quarterback Dominic Deluca add- ed a roughing penalty to his 25-yard throw to Brian Williams. Deluca missed the next play hurt, though, and the Warriors fumbled a keeper to spoil the go-ahead chance — their first turnover of the season.
They still had a chance to win in the final minute. A 31-yard Deluca throw to Minichello — who had a 90-yard kickoff return TD in the first half — a halfback pass by Minichello to Robbie Trottini, and Trottini’s fourth-down reverse moved the Warriors downfield in a last-minute drive. Minichello scored on a 4-yard reception, but Coughlin recovered an onside kick to win.
“We’re a little young, but we certainly have shown we can compete at a high level,” Warriors coach Randy Spencer said. “Now we just have to find a way to finish.”
Coughlin’s Jake Cole, left, moves the ball as Wyoming Area’s Dimitri Dipietro reaches out for a tackle during Saturday night’s game.
Coughlin’s Vincent Todd (2) runs with the ball.