Honesdale's varsity football team started off strong Friday night, but couldn't contain a high-octane North Pocono passing attack. Nick Raven & Nick Bell torched the Hornet secondary for more than 200 yards en route to a 42-30 LFC win. The Red & Black sill close out their regular season Friday, at home, versus Abington Heights.
Once again, Honesdale dominated the early stages of an LFC contest....only to see the opposition come roaring back to victory.
On Friday night in Moscow, the Hornets forced North Pocono to punt after its opening possession, then took the ball and marched to a touchdown. Andrew Branning directed the Red & Black to the score, capping a 75-yard drive himself with a quarterback sneak.
When Branning hit Donny Wasylyk for the 2-point conversion, Honesdale had itself an 8-0 lead with 3:52 left in the opening stanza.
Alas for Maple City grid fans, North Pocono wouldn't take long in retaliating. Nick Raven began picking apart the Hornet secondary, completing passes at will. This game-long dissection began with a 4-yard TD toss to running back Sam Grissinger. It didn't end until Raven had piled up nearly 400 yards passing and led the Trojans to a 42-30 decision.
North Pocono started the '08 regular season campaign with seven straight losses before winning its last two games. Coach Jason Sepkowski's squad is now 2-7 overall and 1-4 in Division One.
Honesdale continues to struggle in Coach John Marichak's first season at the helm. The Hornets are 2-7 for the year and haven't won a game in the division. The Red & Black will close out the season Friday evening, at home versus Abington Heights.
The Comets are 8-1 and all alone atop the LFC standings at 5-0. Abington is coming off a 40-21 non-league rout of Tunkhannock.
First Quarter Promise
Honesdale's defense looked solid early in Friday's battle with North Pocono.
Peter Mesko, Luis Rivero and Peter Freshour dominated the line of scrimmage, forcing the Trojans to punt. The Hornets took possession at their own 25-yardline and began a methodical march downfield.
Branning and Jared Collins were the focal points of the offensive attack. Andrew connected on three passes during the drive, two of which went to Collins for crucial first downs.
Wasylyk exploded around right end for a 24-yard gain all the way to North Pocono's 6-yardline. Three plays later, Branning called his own number and tunneled in from the one. Andrew then found Was-ylyk wide open in the endzone for a 2-point conversion and a quick 8-0 advantage.
The Trojans took the ensuing kick-off and marched to their first score of the game. Raven directed the drive flawlessly, eventually hitting Grissinger for the TD. North Pocono tried for two, but Honesdale's front seven held firm and the score stood at 8-6 with 1:13 to go in the opening period.
The Red & Black showed their resolve by answering with a touchdown drive of their own. Honesdale went 65 yards in nine plays to re-take the lead.
Branning remained cool under pressure, shrugging off a fierce Trojan pass rush to complete his biggest pass of the march. Andrew stepped up in the pocket and found Jonathan Abbot on the visitors' sideline. The play was good for a first down and 15 additional yards, thanks to a personal foul on North Pocono.
Mesko capped the drive with a 7-yard TD burst right up the middle.
The Trojans' Nick Bell broke up a pass attempt for the 2-point conversion, leaving the score at 14-6 with 9:28 remaining in the half.
Quoth the Raven
Raven & Bell are two names Honesdale's coaching staff grew weary of hearing by the end of the evening.
Bell would finish the game with 375 yards passing and Bell was his favorite target. The Trojans' speedy sophomore wideout caught 11 passes for 203 yards and one devastating score. That TD came on North Pocono's very next possession.
Nick returned the kick-off to his own 35, then scorched the Hornet secondary for a 65-yard TD reception on the very next play. Bell ran right past a pair of Honesdale defensive backs, caught Raven's pinpoint pass on stride, and sprinted untouched into the endzone.
Raven then hooked up with Mike Smith on the 2-point con-version try and suddenly the game was tied 14-14.
The Trojans dominated the rest of the half, building up a 29-14 lead by intermission. Raven dove over from a yard away with 2:28 to go in the quarter. He then hit Smith on a beautifully-executed throwback screen pass. Mike snagged the ball, turned upfield and cruised 34 yards to paydirt.
While Honesdale’s defense had trouble all night containing North Pocono’s passing attack, the offense generated some solid numbers.
Branning completed 18-of-30 attempts for more than 220 yards and a touchdown. Jesus Rivero was on the receiving end of Andrew’s TD toss, a 7-yarder that came midway through the third quarter.
Wasylyk was the Hornets’ leading rusher, grinding out 87 yards on 18 carries. Rivero chipped in with 46 yards, while Mesko added 22. Branning scrambled his way to 30 yards and a pair of TDs.
All told, Honesdale compiled 410 yards of total offense, its highest output of the season.
Score by Quarters...
HHS 8 6 8 8 - 30
NP 6 23 7 6 - 42