MAHANOY CITY - It wasn't a good feeling to see a penalty flag laying on the ground after Tamaqua's Jake Love opened the scoring with a long touchdown run for the Raiders near the end of the opening period in their Anthracite League contest with Mahanoy Area.
After the holding call on the Blue Raiders brought the ball back for another try, they immediately answered seconds later with another score against a pesty Mahanoy Area's front, which had held them scoreless on their first two possessions.
Tamaqua head coach Sam Bonner ran the same play, but had Tyler Hope take it to the opposite side. He broke free for a 66-yard touchdown run to eliminate any further worries of a slow start. It gave the Blue Raiders the spark they needed to run away with a 53-0 win over the Golden Bears.
"Jake had a heck of a run on the first play," Bonner said. "Then, we kind of ran the same thing to the opposite side and Hope did the same thing. Obviously, you get one called back sometimes one of those penalities can kill you.
"I thought our offensive line did a good job. We thought we could get it again and we did. So that was a big play for us and I think we kind of steam rolled from there."
The Blue Raiders did as they rattled off 47 unanswered points over the next two periods to cruise to the mercy rule win.
After Hope's scamper accounted for the lone touchdown in the first quarter, Dalton Nunemacher continued the scoring trend in the second quarter with a four-yard touchdown run. On the next possession Nolan Zeigler broke free for a 11-yard touchdown. Right before half, Nunemacher took a punt for 47 yards and his second TD to make it 27-0 at half.
In the third quarter, the Blue Raiders' offensive line, which consists of Nick Coccio, Cody Houser, Devin Murphy, Luke Matsago and Austin Resch and Trevor Skripko, made things more difficult for the Mahanoy Area defensive front, but a lot easier for a Blue Raiders trio. Love (one-yard TD), Nunemacher (71-yard TD) and Hope (38-yard TD) respectively scored on the Raiders' next three possessions thanks to the effort of what Nunemacher felt was key to a ground game, which compiled 409 yards on 42 carries.
While Hope led the way with 129 yards on eight carries, and Love finished with 74 yards on 14, Nunemacher put credit were credit was due for his nine carries surpassing the century mark with 118 and two TDs.
"We had a lot of seniors step up in the off-season to work harder to get where we are now - 4-0," Nunemacher said. "Tonight, our line definitely had a big key to our game here. They stayed on their blocks and opened holes for all of us to get more yards."
While the Blue Raiders had no issues with the Golden Bears' defensive front after the first quarter, Mahanoy couldn't find answers on offense, gaining just 16 yards on 32 carries.
Mahanoy quarterback Greg Merchlinsky was sacked four times, his backfield was caught for 12 tackles for losses.
Bonner was equally impressed with the effort the Raiders put up to post a shutout on the night, which saw them start the season unbeaten after four weeks for the first time since 2009.
"That's big," Bonner said. "Our defensive line isn't the biggest up front, but they're quick. I think we were able to get quick penetration to make the tackles."