CLINTON TWP. — Lackawanna Trail used a bruising rushing attack and a few timely passes to overwhelm Northwest Area, 34-14, in a non-conference game Aug. 24.
Lions quarterback Nathan Rolka, who accounted for three touchdowns, ran 12 yards for a score to open the scoring with 6:31 left in the first quarter. Noah Coleman, who led Trail with 95 yards on 10 carries, accounted for 36 on the drive.
“It was a big win because we’re pretty familiar with Northwest,” Rolka said. “We’ve played them three years in a row and they’re always a really tough opponent.”
Lackawanna Trail (1-0) totaled 334 rushing yards and struck for the second time when Cody Moyle scored on an 8-yard run with 11:12 remaining in the second quarter.
“Our running style in tough and physical,” Rolka said. “We call it Trail Football. We don’t always have the biggest kids, but we have kids who play the game hard.”
Lackawanna Trail’s special teams unit helped set up the next touchdown when Josh Brown forced a fumble on the ensuing kickoff and Jordan Edwards fell on the loose ball.
Rolka connected with Coleman for a 36-yard touchdown, on a seam pattern down the middle of the field, on the next play.
“They have our number and they beat us in every facet of the game tonight,” Northwest coach Lon Hazlet said. “They were faster and they were physical. We need to go back to the drawing board; it certainly wasn’t a good showing by the Rangers this evening.”
Northwest punter Jack Wessler pinned Trail inside the 5-yard line twice in the last five minutes of the second quarter to halt the Lions’ momentum.
Trail continued its dominance on the ground to start the second half when Rolka scored on a 6-yard run to cap a 4-play, 63-yard drive with 9:30 left in the third quarter. Ray Melnikoff gashed the Rangers defense for 37 yards on the first play of the possession.
Northwest (0-1) found the end zone when David Piestrak hit Connor Hazlet for a 59-yard touchdown with 7:34 left in the third quarter. Hazlet shook off a tackler and went the distance after making the catch.
Trail’s Jeffrey Resto put the Lions back in command with a 5-yard touchdown run with 2:39 left in the third quarter.
Piestrak added another touchdown for the Rangers on a 1-yard run with 7:02 remaining in the fourth quarter.
Lackawanna Trail coach Steve Jervis recognized the importance of the early win over a team in Class A, the Lions’ classification.
“It can have a lot of ramifications down the road,” Jervis said. “It’s a great way to set the tone and start the season.”
Reach Robert Tomkavage at 570-704-3941 or on Twitter @rtomkavage.