Win the battle of field position and turnovers and you'll probably win something else the game.
Friday night, Pleasant Valley spent nearly the entire evening on Lehighton's side of the field and intercepted four passes. The result, not surprisingly, was a convincing 28-6 Mountain Valley Conference victory.
"That's the game," said Bears' head coach Jim Terwilliger. "The game is played with momentum changes, field position, and time of possession.
"We're trying to keep the ball on their side. We don't want to have our offense have to go 80 yards. It doesn't matter what level of football it is, you'll be more successful if you start with the ball on the plus side of the 50-yard line."
Against the Indians, they did just that.
Of its 10 possessions, PV's average starting spot was the Lehighton 44-yard line. The Bears (3-1; 3-0 MVC) ran 52 plays on the evening with 43 of them beginning in Indian territory. And the visitors' three scoring drives came from 10, 40 and 33 yards.
"We gave them a short field an awful lot tonight and that's a tough hole to dig out of," said Lehighton mentor Tom McCarroll. "It seemed like we flipped the script from last week. What we did to (PM East in forcing seven turnovers), PV did to us.
"We weren't able to sustain drives. We ran the ball well at times but we also have to throw the ball to complement that and we struggled a bit with that today."
Pleasant Valley's first pick of the evening came on the first play of the second quarter. And it put instant points on the scoreboard
Nyiem Nevarez stayed stride for stride with his man and hauled in the errant throw. After the interception, he worked his way downfield for a 60-yard touchdown.
"Our defense played pretty good," said Nevarez, whose pick-six upped PV's lead to 14-0. "They're pretty much a running team but we were also prepared for them to throw. When I got the ball, I just wanted to put some points on the board."
Nevarez was also responsible for getting his team on the board less than two minutes into the contest.
After a three-and-out by the Indians the junior raced up to field a punt and brought it back 34 yards to the Lehighton 10-yard line. One play later, Austyn Borre was in the end zone for an early lead.
"The young man is having a breakout year," said Terwilliger. "He worked with a speed and strength program and it's really starting to show. We preach about catching the football. Every time you let a punt drop you're going to lose yards. We let a lot of punts drops early in the season. That can result in really poor field position."
A special teams play by Lehighton helped the Indians (2-2; 1-2 MVC) get back in the game. Tyler Crum took the kickoff after Nevarez's score and raced 55 yards. Three plays later, Wyatt Clements bulled into the end zone from five yards out, cutting the gap to 14-6.
"Lehighton is a tremendous football team and they have tough kids," said Terwilliger. "I've seen a big difference in their team. They have a tremendous appetite and will do some damage."
Speaking of damage, the Indians saw a potential tying drive stopped late in the first half when Nick Huerta picked off a pass and returned it to the Indian 40. PV took advantage by marching down the short field and scoring with 4.7 seconds until the half.
Trent Thomas crashed into the end zone from a yard out on a fourth down play to make it 21-6.
"The game never comes down to one or two plays but that was a big one there," said Terwilliger. "Those type of impact plays usually have a direct result in the game."
The Bears' defense closed out the contest by shutting out the Tribe in the second half. Included in that effort were two more picks - one each from Tyson Calhoun and Marquis Brown.
Borre, who finished with 130 yards rushing, closed out the scoring with a one-yard TD run early in the fourth frame.
"We just have to get better," said McCarroll. "We'll continue to coach the kids up and need to regain the momentum that we had. We want to stay positive and use this as a learning experience."