SCRANTON — Scranton Prep established a strong rushing attack from the opening drive and held off a late Abington Heights rally to defeat the Comets, 22-14, in a Lackawanna Football Conference Division 1 game on Saturday.
Junior running back Ricky Morgan carried the load early and senior fullback Tyler Stafursky provided the final blows.
Morgan, who rushed for 176 yards on 35 carries, scored on a 31-yard run to cap a 10-play, 77-yard drive that took more than five minutes off the clock on the first possession of the game. Biagio D’Appolino missed the extra point try.
“They were coming right at us with different blitzes,” Morgan said. “I was just trying to read the blocks and get five yards a carry.”
After Abington Heights accounted for negative 19 yards on six plays in the first quarter, Jordan Hollander connected with Brandon Hardy for 11 yards and Rheyse Green ran 62 yards for a touchdown on the Comets first two plays of the second quarter.
Colin McCreary added the extra point to give Abington Heights a 7-6 lead.
The Cavaliers continued their productive first half when quarterback Jake Ryan capped an eight-play, 50-yard drive that took another four minutes off the clock with a 1-yard touchdown run after a 35-yard kickoff return by David Horvath. Ryan hit Chris O’Brien for the two-point conversation and Prep led 14-7 with 5:25 remaining in the second quarter.
Prep’s Dominic Giacobbe partially blocked a punt by McCreary on the next possession and the Cavaliers (6-1, 3-1 LFC Div. 1) scored their third touchdown of the first half when Ryan scored on a 1-yard run. Ryan also ran in the 2-point conversion to give the Cavaliers a 22-7 advantage at the half.
After the teams exchanged punts to begin the second half, McCreary connected with Nick Kerekes for a 24-yard completion on a fake punt, but Ryan intercepted a Hollander pass in the end zone on the next play to end to scoring chance.
“We feel we like missed a couple opportunities, but we’re pretty confident and comfortable with how well we played,” Abington Heights assistant coach Greg Justave said. “Our execution needs to pick up a little bit, but our effort was there.”
Justave filled in as head coach while Joe Repshis was with his wife, Jen, for the birth of their child.
The Cavaliers gave the ball right back to Abington Heights when Anthony Kimble forced a fumble which was recovered by Hardy at the Prep 32-yard line. The Comets squandered another scoring opportunity when Green was stopped four yards short on fourth down.
“We moved the ball up and down the field, but nothing comes easy for us,” Scranton Prep head coach Nick Donato said. “We get four or five yards a clip and sooner or later, you get a penalty or make a mistake.”
Abington Heights took advantage of a Scranton Prep miscue when Kerekes recovered a fumble by backup quarterback Brian Dwyer, who entered the game after Ryan was injured playing defense. Hollander hit McCreary for a 25-yard touchdown two plays later to cut the deficit to eight after McCreary converted the extra point.
“I haven’t been involved in a game like that in a long time,” Donato said. “You have to put people away and they’re scrappy. I give our kids credit; we were kind of scrambling (with some injuries) but I was proud of the way we played at the end (of the game).”
Stafursky gained 41 of his 61 yards and Braden Burrier added a 13-yard run on the final drive of the game to seal the win for Prep.
“When I heard I was going to running back, I put my head down and just tried to get first downs and keep the time moving,” Stafursky said.
Abington Heights (3-4, 1-3) will host West Scranton in a Lackawanna Football Conference Division 1 game at 2 p.m. Saturday at Comets Stadium.
Reach Robert Tomkavage at 570-704-3941 or on Twitter @rtomkavage.