To say that Jim Thorpe and Minersville were involved in a shootout Friday night is a huge understatement. The two teams totaled a ridiculous 108 points, with the Battlin' Miners outlasting the Olympians 66-42.
The game featured a host of big plays with a total of seven plays between the two teams of 30 yards or more that resulted in a touchdown.
The first two quarters didn't prepare on-lookers for what was to come in the third and fourth, but it was an exciting half of football none the less. After the Olympians turned the ball over on downs on their first drive of the game Minersville used a 27-yard run from Billy Powanda to set up a Cole Weachock ten-yard run for a touchdown. Jim Thorpe struck back on their next drive. The Olympians gained three first downs in the first process ending with a Pat Duvigneaud touchdown strike from eight yards out to sophomore wideout Khaaliq Lynch.
Most of the first half was a battle for the field position game with the Miners getting in the endzone one more time than the Olympians heading into the half with an eight-point lead.
The third quarter proved to be the nail in the coffin for Thorpe with Minersville out-scoring the Olympians 29-13 in the frame. Things got really crazy when at the two-minute mark in the third Billy Powanda rumbled in the endzone for a six-yard touchdown. Little did Powanda know that he was going to set off a series of events that fans may have never seen before in the usually defensive-minded Anthracite Football League.
On the Olympians first play after Powanda's score P.J. Johnson received a hand off from Duvigneaud, hit the edge of the Miners' defense, and was gone for a 50-yard score. On the ensuing Thorpe kickoff the Miners' Luke Heffron busted through the seam of the Olympians defense for a 72-yard touchdown. Then Jim Thorpe's Khaaliq Lynch wanted to get in on the kickoff scoring action as well returning the ensuing Miners' kick for an 80-yard touchdown scamper. Lynch took the ball off one hop, made two Miners miss and raced down the sidelines for the score. In 38 seconds the Miners and Olympians combined for three touchdowns.
"I was very proud of our offensive effort tonight," said Jim Thorpe Head Coach Mark Rosenberger. "Our play-makers played great tonight with Pat (Duvigneaud), Khaaliq (Lynch), and P.J. (Johnson) all making plays for us. P.J. has been making plays all season and Khaaliq was a monster tonight."
Rosenberger's praise for Lynch's performance is well deserved. Lynch caught seven balls for 120 yards and a score along with an 80-yard kick-off return for a touchdown.
"There is no going back now for Khaaliq (Lynch)," said Rosenberger. "He will be expected to perform like this every week from now on. He has the ability to be a great football player."
The Olympians defense once again proved to be a problem on the evening. Thorpe surrendered a staggering 527 yards rushing with three Minersville players going over 100 yards on the night.
"Our defense definitely needs to be better for us to win some games," said Rosenberger. "Our tackling needs to improve and our overall defensive play needs get better as the season goes on. If we play better defense, there is no reason why we can't win some games this season."