Galanti, Daniel Boone run past Hazleton 42-27

BIRDSBORO – Standing at just 5-7, Paul Galanti can be considered anything but tall compared to most players.

On Friday night, however, Galanti came up enormous as Daniel Boone defeated Hazleton 42-27 at Brazinsky Stadium.

The Blazer senior captain totaled 218 yards and three touchdowns on the ground, including runs of 80 and 89 yards against the Cougars (1-8).

“As a captain, there is definitely a lot of weight on my shoulders,’ he said. “I know that the team counts on me each game. I’m just glad I was able to do so much to help us get the ‘ W’ tonight.’

“Paul is an absolute warrior,’ said Daniel Boone (6-3) head coach Bill Parks. “He played a huge role tonight and helped our offense get rolling. Offensively, we moved the ball really well on the ground and through the air, which is crucial at this point in the season.’

The one responsible for getting the ball to Galanti, quarterback Nick Hughes, had 189 yards through the air and two touchdowns, both to wide receiver Jonathan Charles.

“The line was blocking really well for us, which gave us a lot of time and opportunity to let things develop,’ said Hughes. “I’m definitely happy about the way our offense performed on all cylinders.’

The Cougars struck first as they converted two fourth down plays on their opening drive en route to a 21-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Ryan Heller to Zach Zukoski to take a quick 7-0 lead.

“We moved the ball really well on the opening drive,’ said Hazleton head coach Mike Brennan. “Scoring on the opening drive is always a good way to get the team kick-started, so we were definitely happy to come out and put some points on the board.’

But Galanti and the Blazers kept their composure.

On the second play of Daniel Boone’s opening drive, Galanti took a handoff for an 80-yard score to tie the game 7-7.

“They came out and put up a quick seven points on us,’ said Galanti. “We knew that we needed to pull it together and answer back right away.’

Tristian Williams capped off Hazleton’s ensuing drive with a 40-yard field goal to give the Cougars a 10-7 lead at the end of the first quarter.

After a Blazer fumble, which was recovered by Hazleton’s Zach Zukoski, the Cougars moved into Daniel Boone territory where they were forced to settle for another Williams’ field goal at 35 yards making it 13-7.

After a 16-yard pass to Shayne Bookwalter, Hughes found Charles on a quick slant, he shed a would-be tackler and shook two more defenders on his way to a 49-yard score to make it 14-13.

On the ensuing Cougar drive, Heller completed all seven of his passes including a 35-yard throw to Joseph Bayzick to give Hazleton the lead back at 20-14.

After fumbling it, then forcing a Hazleton turnover on downs, the Blazers took over at their own 36.

Following a 43-yard rush from Galanti, Hughes connected with Charles for their second score on a 64-yard touchdown to make it 21-20 at the half.

“We really wanted to take the lead going into the half,’ Charles said. “I told Nick to give me a shot, and I’ll go up and get it. Things definitely would have been different if we were behind at the half.’

After being forced to punt on their opening drive in the second half, the Blazer defense finally made a stop.

Heller’s pass was tipped at the line of scrimmage by linebacker Sean Seiffert right into the hands of Galanti. Four plays later, the senior ran it in for the 2-yard score extending the Daniel Boone lead to 28-20.

After forcing another Cougar four-and-out, Daniel Boone took over on its own 11-yard line.

On the first play of the drive, Galanti took it 89 yards for the score, putting the Blazer lead at 35-20 with just over nine minutes remaining.

On the next Cougar drive, Austin Haring hit Heller, forcing the fumble, which was scooped up by Adam Carr and ran in for another Daniel Boone touchdown to make it 42-20.

On their next drive, the Cougars moved the ball well and eventually scored on a 1-yard Zukoski touchdown to bring the Cougars within 42-27.

The Blazers lost the football again, but the deficit proved to be too much for Hazleton to overcome.

“We’re a young team, and we just didn’t take advantage of their mistakes,’ said Brennan. “Credit to them, they came out, fought hard the whole way and just outplayed us.’

The Blazers will host Exeter next Friday night in another must-win game as they continue to push toward a District 3 playoff berth.

“I’m happy about the way our offense played tonight,’ said Parks. “We need to take better care of the football and play better defensively, but all in all, it feels good to come out with another win.’

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