Honesdale defeats archrival Wallenpaupack Area for the first time in 13 years
After dominating the first half offensively, it was Honesdale’s defense which preserved its biggest varsity grid win in recent years.
The Hornets took an early lead in Friday night’s Lackawanna Football Conference game at Wallenpaupack Area.
Quarterback Ethan Dunn fired a pair of touchdown passes, but the Buckhorns came roaring back after intermission.
Just as it looked as though Paupack might rally for a wild win, though, Honesdale’s defense rose to the occasion. The Red & Black forced two turnovers in the waning moments to preserve a 14-13 victory.
This marked the Hornets’ first win over their archrivals since 2005. It also brings the Wayne Pike Shrine Bowl trophy back to the Maple City once again.
“I couldn’t be prouder of this team,” said Coach Mike Jurkowski. “I’m absolutely thrilled. Our kids worked very hard this week and it paid off. This rivalry is really something. Paupack was tough, but our kids played their hearts out and I couldn’t ask anything more from them.”
With this victory, Honesdale evened it’s regular season record at 1-1. The Hornets now return home for a Week Three LFC battle with Western Wayne.
“We’re definitely going to enjoy this for a day or two, but then it’s right back to work,” said Coach Jurkowski. “Western Wayne is a good team and we’ll have to be ready for them.”
Opening kick-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday night in at the Daniel J. O’Neill Sports Complex.
Honesdale struggled mightily to establish any kind of passing attack in its Week One encounter with Lakeland.
However, Dunn and his receiving corps never got untracked in that one and the results were telling: just four completions, 28 yards and a 7-0 loss.
On Friday night, though, Offensive Coordinator Allen “Butch” Keller wasted no time putting the ball in the air. Dunn was a model of efficiency, hitting on 6-of-9 attempts for 114 yards and two touchdowns.
“Ethan worked very hard all week,” Coach Jurkowski said. “He was really focused during practiced. Ethan is a great kid and a good leader. I'm so pleased to see him bounce back in a big game like he did.”
Dunn's main target on this particular evening was Justin LoBasso. The battle-tested senior tight end came through in the clutch several times, finishing his night with three catches fo6 26 yards and one TD.
For his efforts, LoBasso was chosen by the Shrine Club as his team's Most Valuable Player.
“Justin is a tough kid with great hands,” Coach Jurkowski said. “He does a really nice job at tight end, but he's also a standout on defense. Justin is really stepping up as a leader on both sides of the ball.”
Luke Bancroft also turned in a sensational performance. A junior who excels on offense, defense and special teams, Bancroft finished with a game-high 88 yards receiving.
He set up the game's first touchdown with a long catch and run down inside Paupack's 10 yardline. He then scored the Hornets' second touchdown himself, snagging a pass from Dunn from six yards out.
“Luke played a very good game tonight,” Coach Jurkowski said. “He really got us going with that long one in the first quarter.
“Luke is starting to come into his own as a receiver and I'm expecting big things from him this year.”
In the Trenches
While Dunn and his receiving corps received most of the headlines for Friday night's win, they owe a big debt of gratitude to Honesdale's O-Line.
This unit gave Ethan plenty of time to throw by keeping a fierce Buckhorn pass rush at bay.
Leading the way was senior guard Jake Kabonick who earned Shrine Bowl honors as Honesdale's Most Valuable Lineman.
“We really needed Jake to play on the line again this year,” Coach Jurkowski said with a smile. “He's a running back at heart, but he's the kind of kid who'll do anything for the team. I'm very proud of Jake and thrilled that he was recognized this way.”
Paupack's award winners were Chance Smith (Most Valuable Lineman) and Tom McCormick (Most Valuable Player).
Both are seniors. Smith is a tackle and McCormick is the team's quarterback. He completed 8-of-17 passes for 163 yards and one TD.
Trailing 13-0, Paupack re-grouped at intermission and staged a furious rally in the second half.
The Buckhorns took the third quarter kick-off and promptly marched 70 yards to paydirt. Joe Ingulli did the honors, slashing his way into the Hornet endzone from eight yards out.
Connor Barnes' try for the PAT hit the crossbar … a fact that would loom large final outcome.
Following an exchange of punts, Paupack mounted its second scoring drive of the game. This one culminated with a 17-yard TD strike from McCormick to senior wideout Adam Haupt with 1:12 remaining in the third period.
Surprisingly, Dr. Watson opted to kick the extra point rather than trying for two. This time, Barnes' aim was true and Paupack trailed by one, 14-13.
The Bucks continued putting pressure on Honesdale for the rest of game. However, the Red & Black defense came up huge each time.
Cameron Baker, Isiah Sims, Walker Carney and LoBasso each delivered key plays down the stretch.
The Hornets stopped the Bucks on fourth down and a yard to go with 3:55 left in regulation. Once again, though, they couldn't crack Paupack's suddenly impenetrable defense and were forced to punt.
McCormick then led his offensive unit down the field one last time and appeared right on the verge of a game-winning score.
However, Jimmy Ludwig had the last word. A junior defensive back, Ludwig intercepted a tipped pass deep in Honesdale territory to seal the deal on a razor-thin win.
“Jimmy has really been coming on strong,” Coach Jurkowski said.
“He's contributing as a running back and in the secondary. That was a huge play that kind of saved the day for us. Jimmy is a tough kid who does a little bit of everything for us. He's a big part of this team.”
Score by Quarters...
HON (1-1) 7 7 0 0 - 14
WAL (1-1) 0 0 7 6 - 13