HAZLETON — Jan Cechak said in the preseason that he felt Hazleton Area was a sleeping giant.
Friday night, the first-year Tunkhannock head coach saw it first-hand.
The Cougars scored two touchdowns in every quarter, and backs Adrian Otero and Carson Kinney each ran for more than 100 yards as Hazleton Area lead wire-to-wire, 55-14, Friday night at Harman Geist Memorial Field.
It’s Hazleton Area’s third win in 2015, while the Tigers saw their two-game winning streak come to an end.
“We were down after last week’s game, but we put a good week of work in for Tunkhannock,” Hazleton Area head coach Mike Brennan said. “We executed and played hard tonight, and I’m glad that our kids were able to experience a victory here and have a little fun at home.”
Honestly, there wasn’t much Tunkhannock could have done.
The Cougars were just dominating in each phase of the game.
From an 11-play, 86-yard drive to open the contest to the last score when sophomore Koby Jackson ran for a 12-yard touchdown, it was a complete effort for the Hazleton Area front line.
And it was Otero and Kinney that reaped the benefits.
Otero ran for almost 100 yards in the opening quarter, and finished with 142 on 17 carries. He scored twice in the opening half on runs of 4 and 2 yards, and got the Cougars on the board in the second half on a 2-yard third-quarter plunge right up the middle.
“They really opened up some nice holes, and I tried to run through them as fast as I could,” Otero said. “We really wanted to win this home game. We came out really strong. We felt that we should have won last week, but we had too many mistakes. We had to fix those mistakes.”
Kinney wasn’t too bad, either.
He finished with 102 yards with two first-quarter scores.
As a team, Hazleton Area rushed for 347 yards and amassed more than 500 yards of total offense.
“We were able to have some success running the ball early on, and it helped us to give Sparky (Wolk) a chance to throw the ball,” Brennan said. “We had a few hiccups that we will correct this week, but overall, it was a solid performance.”
Outsized up front, Tunkhannock struggled to put any type of consistent offense together.
As a matter of fact, the Tigers’ offense was the Cywinski brothers, Ryan and Logan.
The senior tailback ripped a 78-yard run with 5:32 left in the second quarter to trim the Hazleton Area lead to 21-6. His brother Logan, a sophomore quarterback, accounted for Tunkhannock’s other score – this one a 54-yard keeper off the right side as he sped up the sideline untouched with 8:26 left.
Take those big runs out, and the Tigers had just 72 yards and four first downs.
“I give a lot of credit to coach Brennan and his staff. Otero is a big tailback, and he’s good,” Cechak said. “It’s a simple game if you block and tackle, and we didn’t do that very well tonight. We start off all our practices with tackling. I just don’t know what happened tonight. And that’s my job to figure it out and fix it. Our inside joke as a staff is we are one deep because our ones are pretty good. We need these twos and threes to step up now, so we can give our ones a break every now and then.”
Hazleton Area led 14-0 after the first quarter and both short TD runs by Kinney and Otero to build a comfortable, 28-6 halftime lead.
The Cougars sent it into the mercy rule on its second possession of the third quarter. On a second-and-long following a holding penalty, freshman quarterback Wolk dropped back and found Hunter Vanblargan behind the Tunkhannock secondary. Sixty-two yards later, Hazleton Area was off and running to a 42-6 advantage.
Wolk was solid, completing 8 of 13 attempts for 176 yards.
“We have some challenges ahead, but we are growing as a team,” Brennan said. “We took a step in the right direction tonight.”
Hazleton Area 55, Tunkhannock 14
HAZ — Adrian Otero 4 run (Tristan Williams kick), 7:26
HAZ — Carson Kinney 12 run (Williams kick), 3:29
HAZ — Kinney 1 run (Williams kick), 6:21
TUNK — Ryan Cywinski 78 run (kick blocked), 5:32
HAZ — Otero 2 run (Williams kick), 3:30
HAZ — Otero 2 run (Williams kick), 9:15
HAZ — Hunter Vanblargan 62 pass from Sparky Wolk (Williams kick), 4:54
HAZ — Isaiah Santiago 7 run (Williams kick), 9:10
TUNK — Logan Cywinski 54 run (Ryan Cywinski run), 8:26
HAZ — Koby Jackson 12 run (team kneel), 0:49
Team Statistics `TUNK`HAN
RUSHING — TUNK, Ryan Cywinski 8-90, Logan Cywinski 10-80, Mike Taylor 4-15, Joey Gavek 4-4, Hunter Hopkins 2-3, Team 1-0. HAZ, Adrian Otero 17-142, Carson Kinney 14-102, Josh Zukoski 2-38, Koby Jackson 4-25, Kaleb Yahner 5-18, Matt Sutton 2-12, Isaiah Santiago 1-7, Logan Jones 1-2, Sparky Wolk 3-1, Team 1-0.
PASSING — TUNK, Logan Cywinski 3-6-1, 20 yards. HAZ, Sparky Wolk 8-13-0, 176 yards.
RECEIVING — TUNK, Ryan Cywinski 1-12, Mike Taylor 1-5, Brian Muckin 1-3. HAZ, Hunter Vanblargan 4-120, Jose Cabrera 3-39, Joey Bayzick 1-17.
INTERCEPTIONS — HAZ, Eddie Bielen 1.
MISSED FGs — None.
RECORDS — TUNK 2-5, HAZ 3-4
Reach Times Leader sports at 570-829-7143 or on Twitter @TLsports