SWIFTWATER – It was a tale of two halves for the Pocono Mountain East football team Friday night.
After gaining just 166 total yards in the first half against Lehighton, the Cardinals came out after the break and really put it together offensively. The Cardinals scored on six of their seven second-half possessions, racking up 317 yards in two quarters, and went on to rout the Indians, 62-41 in Mountain Valley Conference play.
"We just couldn't stop them," said a dejected George Ebbert, Lehighton's head coach. "You can't get into a track meet with a team that you can't out-run."
The first half of play nearly set the game of football back 40 years. The play was very sloppy, as evident in the five combined turnovers. In fact, there were three turnovers in a five-play span late in the second quarter.
Lehighton won the toss and immediately coughed the ball up in its first play from scrimmage. East capitalized six plays later and took an early 7-0 lead.
The Indians answered on their next possession, driving 65 yards in 13 plays for a touchdown. The drive was capped off when quarterback Josh Agosto found Graham Strauss for a three-yard score on fourth-and-three. The teams would go on to alternate touchdowns – and turnovers – until the scoreboard read 21-19 in favor of the Cardinals at halftime.
Perhaps more ugly was the fact that there was seven personal fouls called in the first 24 minutes. The Cardinals had two called against them on back-to-back plays; however it only cost them two yards apiece since the ball was inside their own five-yard-line. Lehighton had two called in a short span as well, with its third being negated by another East personal foul.
"It was embarrassing," said Ebbert. "More than the fumbles and the mistakes, it was embarrassing to have three personal fouls in the first half. That's not the way we do things and that will certainly be addressed."
The Cardinals made the correct adjustments at the break because they came out and marched right down the field using a trap running play. East tailback Eddie Helm picked up 33 and 10 yards on consecutive plays before teammate Daymon Singer scampered in from 17 yards out. Helm totaled 113 of his game-high 177 rushing yards in the second frame.
Still, the Indians again answered quickl, as they scored in just two plays after getting the ball back. Agosto hit Matt Rebovich on a fly-pattern for a 41-yard score. The two hooked up again a play later for the two-point conversion and cut the deficit to one.
Lamont Tillery, finally got into the act when he pulled in a 24-yard touchdown pass on the next possession. Lehighton was forced to punt on its next possession, but received a stroke of good luck when Helm fumbled the ball at his own 27-yard line. Anthony Farole was able to scoop up the ball and ran it 27 yards to the house. Agosto ran it in for two a play later and knotted the game at 35.
The wheels then fell off for the locals in the fourth quarter. After Helm scored his second of two touchdowns to give his Cardinals back the lead, the Indians lost their third fumble on the follwing kickoff. Five plays later Tillery hauled in his second touchdown.
The Indians weren't done shooting themselves in the foot. Agosto lost Lehighton's fourth fumble of the night on the team's next possession, leading to yet another East touchdown. At that point the score read 56-35 and it was all but over for the Indians.