By nature, football coaches find things to worry about, no matter how well their team is playing.
Suffice to say, the Tamaqua High football is playing very well this season, but coach Sam Bonner was still worried how the Blue Raiders would react against arch-rival Panther Valley when they learned they had to resume their Homecoming game Saturday that they thought they had won Friday. Well, not to worry.
Picking up the game that had been suspended by lighting with 9:08 left in the third quarter, the Raiders scored on offense, defense and special teams for a 46-0 Anthracite Football League victory. When the teams left the stadium Friday, the Raiders (8-0 overall, 6-0 AFL) believed they had won 26-0 and the game was over.
Under PIAA rules, any game that is suspended in the second half by lighting is official, regardless of the point spread, unless a league rule overrules this. In the AFL, only a game that is being played under the mercy rule becomes official unless both coaches agree to half play, and the Panthers (3-5, 2-4) wanted to continue.
"Once our guys got here and got ready, they were ready to play some more football," Bonner said. "I think they showed they were ready, and we had a lot of guys show they like to play football."
One of those guys was quarterback Nate Edmonds, who completed 5-of-9 passes for 150 yards and three touchdowns. He opened the scoring with a 55-yard touchdown pass to Dustin Vandermartin in the first quarter, combined with Vandermartin for a 26-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter for a 20-0 halftime lead and opened the scoring in a 20-point third quarter with a 38-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Krell.
Dalton Nunemacher made the most of his 12 carries for 85 yards, scoring on a 4-yard run in the second quarter to make the score 14-0 after a conversion run by Edmonds and a 1-yard run to cap the scoring. Nunemacher also had the big defensive play, returning the team's second of three interceptions 55 yards for a touchdown and a 32-0 lead on the fourth play after the game resumed.
Vandermartin had set up his second touchdown with an interception, and Brett Kosciolek had a fourth-quarter interception. A contributing factor to the interceptions was a pass rush that resulted in six sacks, including three by Nick Hollenbach, giving him 14 for the season and breaking the school single-season of 11 set by Ryan Oldt.
Tamaqua put the mercy rule into effect when it scored nine points in less than a minute late in the third quarter. After scoring a safety when a high snap in punt formation resulted in the ball being kicked through the end zone, Jake Love scored on a 21-yard run two plays later for a 40-0 lead.
Rich Nase led the Panthers with 17 carries for 47 yards, but they finished with a net of minus-25 yards rushing. Matt Levitt completed 5-of-17 passes for 26 yards, including four receptions by Kyle Ferryman for 22 yards, for a net gain of 1 yard.
Tamaqua can clinch a tie for the AFL title this week with a victory over visiting Minersville. Panther Valley is home to take on North Schuylkill, which still has a chance to earn a District 11 Class AA playoff berth.