DINGMANS FERRY – Penalties and mistakes will hinder any football team's chances of winning a game.
Friday night, it was Lehighton that saw its chances greatly diminished by errors.
The Indians turned the ball over six times, committed 12 penalties for 90 yards, and allowed 326 yards on the ground to East Stroudsburg North as they fell 42-21 in their last Mountain Valley Conference game of the season. The loss eliminates Lehighton from District 11 and Eastern Conference playoff contention.
"We made too many mistakes," said Lehighton head coach George Ebbert. "We got frustrated. We just killed ourselves with penalties.
"(North) does such a great job with their offense that it becomes very frustrating. We can practice it all week, but you can't duplicate what they do. Then we made some mistakes and kind of shot ourselves in the foot too."
On top on all of its miscues, Lehighton lost starting quarterback Josh Agosto for the night following its first series of the game. Agosto ran for six yards on second down before throwing an incompletion on third down. Ebbert said the injury may have happened on the run, but it was unclear as to what exactly happened. Regardless, it certainly didn't help the Indians' chances.
"It didn't help that Agosto went out on the third play of the game," Ebbert said. "(Anthony) Farole had to step in with basically no practice at quarterback. I thought he did a great job, but when you lose a guy like Josh it hurts."
Meanwhile, Lehighton's defense could not find a way to slow down North running back Joe Clouse. Clouse racked up 252 yards on 30 carries and had touchdown runs of 7, 11 and 52 yards. He set the school's single-season rushing record in the process. His three scores also tied the school's mark for touchdown runs in a season.
The teams traded touchdowns in the first quarter before North blew it open in the second. Clouse ran for two scores in the second frame, while Lorenzo Melchiorre added another. Quarterback Joe Romano, who rarely throws, found receiver Abdul Murphy on one of his two completions for a 21-yard scoring strike late in the half.
Lehighton's Jacen Nalesnik hit Jon Strauss, who made a great catch, for an 8-yard touchdown right before the half to make it 35-14 at the break. Farole ran one in on the first play of the fourth quarter to draw the Indians to within 14, but that was the closest they would get. Following an interception on Lehighton's next possession, Clouse rumbled in from 52 yards out to put the game out of reach.
Nalesnik was the Indians' lone bring spot on the night. He caught eight balls for 98 yards and completed his only pass attempt for a touchdown. Farole also did well considering the circumstances, as he threw for 146 yards and a score.
With the playoffs out of reach, Lehighton's focus will shift to next week's rivalry game against Jim Thorpe. That alone will serve as the team's motivation for the upcoming week.
"We are playing Jim Thorpe," said Ebbert. "We want to beat Jim Thorpe and win that trophy. We also want our seniors to go out with a win. That is the most important thing at this point."