MAHANOY CITY - It was a whole different scenario when Marian and Mahanoy Area did battle during Week 3 of the high school football regular season.
The Bears, with senior quarterback Dylan Mahmod at the controls rolled to a 40-6 victory.
This time, in the Eastern Conference Class A championship, Mahmod was lost for the season with an injury last week against Nativity so the Bears went with sophomore Matt Yedsena.
The Colts also had a different quarterback, as freshman Ethan Kuczynski, who guided the Colts to last week's win over Muncy, got the call again.
It was Kuczynski ,who threw a pair of touchdown passes and a hard-nosed Marian defense that wore the gold at the end of the night by beating the Colts 28-3 on the Golden Bears home turf.
Marian head coach Stan Dakosty had nothing but praise for his team, who started the season 0-3, but never left it get the best of it and the Colts finished out winning seven of their last nine games.
"They stayed with it, there was some frustration, but they never gave up and played hard," said Dakosty afterwards. "This has truly been one of the greatest season's I've been involved in. I've been doing this for over 35 years and it's one of the greatest feelings ever. It's just a big win for us."
The Bears looked like they were going to score the game's first touchdown when Jason Richmond broke loose down the left sideline before being pushed out at the four by Nico Agosti after a 56-yard gain. three plays later, Joe Bradley wound up booting a 20-yard field goal as the Marian defense stiffened giving Mahanoy a 3-0 lead with 2:53 left in the opening quarter.
The Colts didn't get their initial first down until Kuczynski connected with Nico Agosti on a 70-yard pass play for a touchdown with 6:33 left in the first half. Bailey Becker booted the PAT to make it 7-3 and the Colts never looked back.
On Mahanoy's next offensive series, Nico Agosti intercepted a Yedsena pass and returned it to the Colts 44.
Kuczynski fired a bullet to Nico two plays later for a 36-yard gain down to the Mahanoy 15 and on the next play, Anthony Agosti raced into the end zone for the score. The extra point attempt was blocked and with 3:22 still left until halftime, Marian had a 13-3 lead.
Marian had one more drive left in them as Anthony Agosti was the workhorse on a six-play, 64-yard drive that ended when Lucas Damian caught a Kuczynski pass in the end zone with 11 seconds remaining. Anthony Agosti was on the receiving end of a two-point conversion aerial from Kuczynski setting the halftime score at 21-3.
"He's a smart, intelligent kid," Dakosty said about Kuczynski. "The upperclassmen rallied around him and he's responded."
Mahanoy Area head coach Dave Holman switched quarterbacks go start the second half as Mason Ryan took the controls and the Golden Bears started to move the ball a bit.
Through the entire third quarter, the Colts only got to run six plays so it was the Marian defense that stood in the limelight a bit.
The Bears started a drive with 7:31 left in the third quarter on their own 39 and didn't score, despite keeping it going into the fourth quarter. Ryan did run one in from five yards out, but it was called back on a penalty.
Eventually faced with a fourth down back on the Marian 17, Yedsena took the snap and was thrown for an eight-yard loss by Joe Damiano ending the drive.
Mahanoy did get the ball back at the Marian 37 when it recovered a fumble for another try..
This time, the Golden Bears were able to get down to the two-yard line and came up big again when Ryan was dropped for a 14-yard loss on fourth down.
Two plays later, with 4:58 left in the game, Nick Sully broke loose off left tackle and outran the entire Mahanoy secondary 77 yards for the game's final score. Becker's PAT made it 28-3 and the Bears never threatened again.
"Defensively, in the first three games of the season, we couldn't stop anybody," Dakosty noted. "Coach (Chink) Connelly has come up with great plans and our kids have played their hearts out.
"There was a touchdown pass in the Bishop Egan game that turned this season around. We were struggling. We hit Lucas (Damian) on about an 80-yard pass from K.J. Snerr and our whole attitude just flipped. From that point on we believed we could win and believed in each other. We've used four quarterbacks, but they play as a team, they care about each other and I'm just so proud of them and our school and the great turnout of fans tonight.
"We're Eastern Conference champs and after opening the season with three straight losses, we're seven and two. That's a heck of a turnaround."