CATASAUQUA – Tamaqua stared the end of its season in the face. And beat it back for at least one more week.
The Raiders were down two scores with time winding down in their first round Eastern Conference playoff game at Catasauqua. But they scored nine points in the final 2:38 to tie the game then won it in overtime, 33-32.
"I honestly think they thought they were going to be able to take it easy when they were up two scores," said Tamaqua running back Jarred Muffley. "They have to know they can't take it easy against a Coal Region football team."
After tying the game at 19-19 on a 25-yard Lance Williams field goal with 37 seconds left in the game, the Raiders headed into overtime with momentum.
Both teams scored on their first possessions after regulation. Tamaqua used four plays to get in, with Muffley plowing in from a yard out on fourth down. Catty answered with Ra'Von Burton's 6-yard run on fourth down that tied it at 26-26.
The Rough Riders got the next possession and scored on a second-down Luke Garner run. When Tamaqua's Dylan Houser blocked the extra point, it gave his team the opening it needed.
"All night we knew we were getting close off the corner," he said. "On that last play [Catty's kicker] was backed up a little more than he was all night. Me and Muffley were coming at him off the corner. I just ran right into it."
After a Catty defensive holding penalty on first down gave the Raiders a first and goal from the 5-yard line, Muffley carried twice, scoring from three yards out. Williams made the extra point for the win.
"Extra points are huge," said Catty head coach Tom Falzone. "We missed one and we had two blocked. That's three points we would have had, should have had, could have had."
Falzone thought he had the Raiders right where he wanted them. Up until Tamaqua's last two possessions in regulation, the Roughies had held Muffley to just 38 yards.
"They were loading up the box," said Muffley. "We had to open it up and that's what we did."
Down 19-10, Tamaqua got the ball with 6:57 left in the game and went to the passing game. Freshman quarterback Brett Kasciolek completed four straight passes to move his team from its own 29-yard line to the Catty 39. After a few Muffley carries, Kosciolek, who went 5-for-5 on the drive, completed an 11-yard, third-down pass to Tyler Krell (4 catches for 76 yards) that set up Muffley's 1-yard touchdown run.
"Brett Kosciolek was making some clutch passes all night," said Tamaqua head coach Sam Bonner. "For a freshman, he stands back there nice and cool. We didn't feel like we had to make a long bomb, just had to chunk them a little bit. When we loosened them up with the pass, it opened up a little bit of the running game."
Muffley's touchdown came with 2:38 left in the game and got the Raiders within a field goal, 19-16.
Williams' onside kick bounced off a Catty player before Derek Vandermartin fell on it to keep his team's chances alive.
Starting at the Catasauqua 47-yard line, Kascoilek began the drive with a 22-yard completion to Muffley, then handed it to the 1,000-yard back a few times.
The Rough Rider defense stopped the Raiders at the 7-yard line and Williams nailed the 25-yard field goal to tie the score with 37 seconds left.
After their comeback, the Raiders liked their chances in overtime.
"We felt pretty good," Bonner said. "Our offense was clicking a little bit more. The way our kicker was kicking, we thought maybe it would come down to a kick and it did."
The Raiders will play at North Penn next week for the Eastern Conference title.