HAWLEY — One week after coming out flat for a non-league game at Mountaintop, Wallenpaupack Area's varsity football team had something to prove.
The Buckhorns had begun the 2012 season with three solid performances and a 2-1 record.
However, heading into Friday night's contest, veteran head coach Dr. Mark Watson wondered which of his teams would show up to play perennial powerhouse Abington Heights.
Would it be the one that posted back-to-back wins over Honesdale and Allentown Dieruff? Or, would it be the mistake-prone unit that melted down late against Valley View and simply imploded versus Crestwood?
"It's hard to figure out," Dr. Watson said. "I still can't explain what happened against Crestwood. I can tell you this, though: If we play like that again, we'll be in big trouble."
Unfortunately for this crack coaching staff and for diehard fans, Paupack had no answer for Abington on either side of the ball. The Bucks played the Comets to a 3-3 stalemate after one quarter, but then were overpowered at the line of scrimmage in the final three.
The result was a 31-10 Comets victory and a sobering realization for Dr. Watson.
"I just don't know what to think sometimes," he said. "We look so good one minute and then absolutely awful the next. We have a ton of potential with all these young kids, but Division One is very tough this year. There are no easy games the rest of the season..."
With this loss, Paupack's record fell to 2-3 at the halfway point. Next up for the Bucks is a Week Six road trip to the Electric City.
The local lads will take on Scranton Prep in a rare Saturday afternoon game at Memorial Stadium beginning at 1:30 p.m.
The two teams exchanged first quarter field goals to open what at times was a brutally physical battle on the shores of The Big Lake.
Abington struck first when Ryan Patrick banged home a 34-yard field goal five minutes in. Paupack retaliated late in the stanza when Mason Gallik split the uprights on a 23-yarder.
The Comets slowly took control of the game from this point on, thanks to a bruising ground game and pinpoint aerial assault.
Quarterback Dante Pasqualichio unleashed a barrage of second period points with a 4-yard TD scramble. Then, less than two minutes after wingback Jerry Langan broke loose on an 11-yard scoring run, Pasqualichio struck again.
Abington's senior signal caller dropped back and hit JC Show in stride down the middle of the field. The Comets' wideout did the rest, sprinting 45 yards to paydirt and a 24-3 halftime lead.
Page 2 of 2 - "Our secondary still needs some major work," Dr. Watson admitted. "We have some tough kids back there, but they're very inexperienced. We got caught coming up on that one and they just threw it over our heads."
Abington increased its lead to 31-3 after intermission.
Quinn Karam capped a long Comets drive by going in from four yards out. The junior tailback would finish up his night with a game-high 106 yards on 16 carries.
Paupack tightened things up considerably down the stretch, shutting out Abington the rest of the way.
"We played much better, especially in the fourth quarter," Dr. Watson said. "We had some golden opportunities, but we didn't take advantage most of the time. It was definitely disappointing."
For example, quarterback Will Hendel scrambled out of the pocket and raced all the way to the Comets' one. However, a penalty negated the play and gave Paupack possession at the 45.
"You just can't have that," Dr. Watson said simply. "It can't happen."
Hendel did manage to direct one 4th quarter scoring drive. The veteran gunslinger hooked up with senior wideout Paul Gangoo on a 10-yard strike with 5:00 left in regulation. He closed out the evening with 181 yards on 16 completions.
Abington proved equally impressive through the air. Pasqualichio connected on 10 passes for 183 yards and was not intercepted. Hendel was picked once.
John Jones turned in another solid all-round effort for Paupack. The senior tailback amassed 50 hard-earned yards on 17 carries, but also hauled in seven receptions for an even 100 yards.
Score by Quarters...
WA (2-3) 3 0 0 7 - 10
AH (4-1) 3 21 7 0 - 31