HAWLEY — For two quarters Friday night, Honesdale appeared as it had finally turned the corner in one of the area's biggest gridiron rivalries.
The Hornets suffered one of their worst losses of the season against Wallenpaupack Area last year in Week One, a 47-2 shocker at the hands of the Buckhorns.
This time around, though, Coach Jim Ludwig's lads looked like they were poised for an upset. The Red & Black raced out to an early lead, scoring once in each of the opening two periods. However, Paupack stormed back each time and took a 15-14 lead into the lockerroom at intermission.
"I was really happy with our effort in the first half," Coach Ludwig told TWI Sports. "The kids were flying all over the field making plays on both sides of the ball. I honestly don't know what happened in the second half. It's very disappointing..."
Simply put, Paupack dominated the final two quarters. After a scoreless third, the Buckhorns cranked up their running game behind John Jones. The senior tailback carried the ball an eye-popping 29 times for 216 yards and capped two long drives with touchdown runs.
The result was a disheartening 29-14 defeat for Honesdale.
"We'll go back and look at the game video and see what we can learn," Coach Ludwig said. "Then, we'll try and put it behind us. The kids are pretty down right now and so am I. This is a tough loss."
With the win, Paupack evens its 2012 record at 1-1. The Bucks hit the road for a non-league battle with Allentown Dieruff on Friday.
Honesdale is 0-2 on the season and will now prepare for its home opener. The Hornets put out the proverbial welcome mat for Valley View Friday night.
Opening kick-off for both of these contests is slated for 7:00 p.m.
Kevin Miller ignited the Hornet offense with his legs and arm.
Facing two unfavorable third down situations, the talented junior quarterback scrambled for a pair of first downs to keep Honsdale's initial drive alive. Miller then hit Jonathan Gillow on a crossing pattern to give the visitors a first down in Paupack territory.
Moments later, Kyle Carney silenced the big home crowd with a dazzling run. The junior scatback took a pitch right, cut back sharply and sliced right through the heart of Paupack's defense. Twenty-nine yards later, Carney was celebrating the evening's first touchdown.
TJ Knash converted the PAT and with 7:02 left in the opening stanza, Honesdale had itself a 7-0 lead.
The Buckhorns wasted little time retaliating. After the ensuing kick-off, Will Hendel drove the Bucks right downfield. Paupack's veteran signal caller capped a 70-yard drive with a 21-yard touchdown pass to David Pabst.
Page 2 of 2 - Dr. Mark Watson then dug deep into his bag of tricks on the conversion. Paupack's coach had Hendel fake the PAT try. Will took the snap, rolled to his right and hit Cameron Wolfson with a 2-point pass. With 2:49 remaining in the first quarter, Paupack suddenly held an 8-7 advantage.
Honesdale unveiled its aerial assault in its second possession. Miller once again kept the drive alive with a Jim Zorn-esque scramble, giving his Hornets a first down in Paupack territory.
On the very next play, Miller dropped back to pass and delivered a touchdown strike to Gillow. The play covered 43 yards and, with another Knash PAT, Honesdale surged back in front by a score of 14-8.
Sadly for local fans who made the trek down Rte. Six Friday night, Miller's TD toss to Gillow would be Honesdale's last gasp offensively.
Paupack unleashed its own air attack late in the second quarter and re-captured the lead. Hendel and Pabst once again hooked up, this time on a 10-yarder. Mason Gallik split the uprights with the conversion attempt and the Bucks took a 15-14 lead into halftime.
After the break, Dr. Watson went back to what he knows best: the running game. Paupack's veteran skipper basically turned the offense over to his tailback, then sat back and enjoyed the show.
Jones, barely a blip on the radar as a 155-pound junior, played brilliantly in the first home game of his senior season. John ran roughshod over Honesdale's front seven, carving up the Hornets for two second half touchdowns.
The first came from five yards out and capped a long Paupack drive early in the third quarter. Jones then gave the Bucks some much-needed breathing room with time ticking down in regulation. He high-stepped in from six yards away, sealing the deal on a 29-14 win.
Miller finished up as Honesdale's top rusher, carrying the ball eight times for 82 yards. Kevin also comppleted five passes for 85 yards and one TD.
His favorite target was Gillow, who wound up with 61 yards on two receptions.
Carney was limited to just 23 yards on 10 attempts.
Score by Quarters...
HON (0-2) 7 7 0 0 - 14
WAL (1-1) 8 7 0 14 - 29