HONESDALE — For a second straight year, the Hornets closed out an otherwise disappointing season on an optimistic note in Lackawanna Football Conference action.
Mid Valley invaded the Maple City on a cold November night, hoping to send Hall of Fame Coach Frank Pazzaglia into retirement with one more win. However, the Red & Black rained on the parade. Or, perhaps more accurately, they snowed on it.
Flurries were flying from opening kickoff to final whistle Friday and Honesdale seemed oddly suited to the conditions. Coach Jim Ludwig's lads embraced the elements and conjured their most physical performance of the entire campaign.
The result was a highly satisfying 13-6 victory.
"I think we came out here tonight with a lot of intensity and determination," he told TWI Sports. "It's been awhile since I've seen our kids hit like that. They really went out there and got after it. This was a good win and a good way to finish up."
Honesdale's season officially ends with a 3-7 overall record (1-4, Division Two). Mid Valley was also boxed out of any playoff consideration with a 4-6 mark ... a bittersweet end to Pazzaglia's coaching career, which spanned four decades and encompassed 344 wins.
"It was definitely an honor to be part of a night like this," Coach Ludwig said. "He (Pazzaglia) has been doing it for a long time and he's a huge part of high school football in this area. I'm sure he would have liked a different outcome, but I'm just happy our kids rose to the occasion."
On the Field
Honesdale's defense made the evening's first statement amid a whipping wind and dizzily dancing flakes.
Quarterback Martin Walsh directed Mid Valley's offense to the 9-yardline. However, the Hornets rose up and pushed the Invaders all the way back to the 17, where they turned it over on downs.
From there, Kevin Miller and Kyle Carney took over.
Miller twice faded back to pass, found no one open and scrambled for first down yardage. The junior gunslinger then evaded another possible sack by dumping the ball to Alex Evanitsky on third and long.
Carney made his presence felt by catching one pass for a first down. Kyle then scampered down inside the 30 for another and saw 15 additional yards tacked on for a horsecollar tackle.
On the very first play after referee Tom Finan stepped off the penalty, Carney split the middle of Mid Valley's defense and sprinted 14 yards to paydirt. TJ Knash's PAT try was wide right, but the Hornets still owned a 6-0 lead with 5:27 remaining in the first half.
Carney piled up 122 yards rushing on the night and turned in an inspired effort defensively. However, Kyle's most crucial contributions to this win came on special teams.
Page 2 of 2 - Carney dropped back to punt on two separate occasions, snared the snap and raced around the end for first downs ... decisions that left Mid Valley players pointing fingers at one another, hometown fans cheering and Coach Ludwig smiling.
"We gave him that option," he said. "We told Kyle if he thought he could make it, just tuck it away and go for it. Kyle's one of the fastest players around and once he gets to the corner, no one's going to catch him."
The second of these crowd-pleasing plays came with less than two minutes to go before halftime and the Hornets took advantage.
Miller once again danced away from the Invaders pass rush and with all zeroes showing on the clock, launched a missile toward the back of the endzone. Carney was there to haul it in, keeping both feet inbounds at the back of the enzone.
This time, Knash split the uprights with his conversion try and Honesdale carried a 13-0 lead into the lockerroom at intermission.
Seal the Deal
When Mid Valley came out for the second half, it was apparent Coach Pazzglia had made some major adjustments to his gameplan.
The Invaders' veteran mentor abandoned his aerial assault in favor of a no-nonsense ground game. That decision resulted in an epic 77-yard march that ended in paydirt early in the fourth quarter.
Junior tailback Tyler Collins carried the ball 10 times during this 12-play march, eventually punching it in from three yards out. Honesdale stuffed the 2-point conversion try which left the score at 13-6 with 10:02 remaining in regulation.
Following a Hornet punt, Miller crushed any comeback hopes Mid Valley fans may have been entertaining. On 4th and four at the 30-yardline,
Kevin intercepted a Walsh pass and returned it out near midfield. From there, the Red & Black simply ran out the clock on a solid 13-6 win.
Score by Quarters...
HON (3-7) 0 13 0 0 - 13
MV (4-6) 0 0 0 0 - 6