It's an ages-old axiom that good teams find a way to win even when they aren't playing their best.
After thoroughly dominating Valley View en route to a 35-0 victory, Wallenpaupack Area proved the truth of that assertion in its Week Two Lackawanna Football Conference assignment.
Paupack found itself in a good old-fashioned slugfest with archrival Honesdale Friday evening right from the start of the 21st Annual Wayne/Pike Shrine Bowl.
The Buckhorns struggled all night to contain a multi-faceted Hornet attack. They committed mental errors on special teams, botched assignments on defense and missed golden opportunities offensively.
"We really came out flat," Dr. Mark Watson said of his Buckhorns. "We weren't anywhere near as physical as we were last week. And, give Honesdale credit, they were well-prepared and ready to play."
Despite all these factors, Paupack still managed to pull one out of the fire. The Bucks scored in every period and held off a late Hornet rally to post a 28-26 victory.
"I'm very proud of this team," an emotionally drained Honesdale Coach Jim Ludwig said. "We were down late in the game, but the kids never quit. They played with a ton of heart."
With this win Paupack upped its LFC record to 2-0-0 overall. The Bucks' next assignment is a non-league battle with Allentown Dieruff.
Honesdale is now 0-2-0 on the young season. The Red & Black will continue their search for that elusive first win Friday night at Valley View.
The Hornets marched right down the field and scored on their initial possession of the game.
Kyle Carney did the honors, scampering into the endzone from 16 yards out. TJ Knash split the uprights with the PAT try and Honesdale had itself an early 7-0 lead.
Page 2 of 4 - Much to the chagrin of a big home crowd, that lead lasted all of 14 seconds.
Dominick Basilicata fielded the ensuing kick-off and returned it to about the 34-yardline. That's when things went sideways. Basilicata fumbled the ball, but it bounced right into the hands of teammate Ricky Smith.
The senior barely broke stride, sprinting the remaining 66 yards to the paydirt. Matt Vosburg was good from placement and the first quarter ended in a 7-7 stalemate.
Kevin Miller orchestrated the Hornets' next scoring drive, which culminated on the first play of the second period.
Honesdale's veteran quarterback called his own number from the Pistol and dived in for a one yard touchdown.
Knash's extra point try clanged off the left upright, making the score 13-6.
Paupack wasted no time in retaliating. The Bucks staged a long march of their own which featured the potent 1-2 punch of Jovaughn Marshall and Smith.
Marshall was the hero of Week One for Paupack, shredding Valley View's defense for 204 yards and four TDs. Honesdale was ready for Jovaughn Friday night, though, crowding the middle and holding him to 96 yards on 20 attempts.
On this drive, Marshall ripped of several solid runs. However, it was Smith who capped the march on a 4-yard TD scamper. Once again, Vosburg hammered home the extra point and Paupack took a 14-13 lead into intermission.
Both teams came out of the lockerroom fired-up defensively for the second half.
Honesdale's Tyler Canfield brought the Maple City crowd to its feet by forcing a turnover, but James Gentes retaliated with a fumble recovery of his own that ignited a Paupack scoring drive.
Page 3 of 4 - Smith once again did the majority of the damage. A senior tailback in his first year as a starter, Ricky slashed his way to a 9-yard TD run, his third of the evening. Smith would close out this contest with 61 yards on just 12 carries.
"I'm very pleased with how Ricky is playing right now," Dr. Watson said. "He's a gritty kid. Ricky works hard every day at practice. He never quits on a play and that showed here tonight."
On the heels of yet another Vosburg PAT, Paupack increased its advantage to 21-13 through three periods.
Marshall finally found his way into Honesdale's endzone early in the final stanza, crashing in from four yards out.
Vosburg then closed out a perfect night, drilling his fourth straight extra point and giving the Buckhorns a 28-13 edge.
To their undying credit, the Hornets refused to fold. Led once again by Carney and Miller, the Red & Black tallied two late TDs to make things interesting.
Kyle shook off the effects of an early injury to record another big night. Honesdale's senior tailback ran for a game-high 122 yards on 21 carries.
The highlight of Carney's evening came midway through the fourth quarter. Kyle took a hand-off, cut back against the grain and raced 41 yards to the endzone.
He broke three tackles along the way, tight-roped his way down the sidelines and dove across the goal line.
"You probably won't see a better run than that all season," Coach Ludwig said. "Kyle showed a lot of toughness and character tonight. He played a great game."
Dakota Kronyak elicited a road from the hometown fans less than two minutes later when he recovered a fumble at the Paupack 24.
Miller took control from there. The Hornets' field general threw a strike to Canfield at the five, then sprinted around left end for Honesdale's final touchdown with 4:24 left in regulation.
Page 4 of 4 - Knash converted his final PAT try, bringing the final score to 28-26.
Score by Quarters...
WAL (2-0) 7 7 7 7 - 28
HON (0-2) 7 6 0 13 - 26