What a difference 12 minutes makes.

It was supposed to be a close battle between Tamaqua, which had allowed just 12 points in its last two games, and Mahanoy Area which came in averaging 47 points in its first three games of the season.

The Tamaqua Blue Raiders competed for three quarters in last night's 53-28 Anthracite League loss to undefeated Mahanoy Area. In fact, the Raiders held a 7-6 lead after the first quarter on the strength of an eight-play, 63-yard drive capped by a five yard run from Tyler Skripko.

Then the second quarter nightmare left the Raiders reeling. The Golden Bears scored five touchdowns. First, Mahanoy quarterback Dylan Mahmod, who rushed for 231 of his team's 241 yards in the game hit Jason Richmond on a 33-yard TD pass. Then after a Raider punt, Mahmod sliced and diced through Tamaqua's defense on a 56-yard score. Exactly 14 seconds later, Mike Wronski scooped up a Raider fumble and returned it for a 27-7 Bear's lead.

The Raiders (2-2) then answered with a Ernie Shilko 13 yard run, but Mahanoy passed and ran for two more scores in the final two and a half minutes to take a commanding 41-14 lead at the break.

"We saw that they were loading the box to stop our midline option run so with play action we were able to hit some big passes on them," said Bear's coach Dave Holman.

"We definitely bit on the midline," said Raider's coach Sam Bonner. "Our secondary got caught up front leaving their receivers wide open."

Tamaqua tried to make some key adjustments at halftime, but Mahmod broke free again on his way to a 28-yard touchdown with just 44 seconds gone by in the third quarter.

Down by 33 at this point, Tamaqua quarterback Nate Edmonds engineered a 10-play, 74-yard drive that ended when Dustin Vandermartin got open on a pass from Edmonds on his way to a 31-yard touchdown.

But with 5:42 to go in the quarter, the Bears iced the game with a nine-play scoring drive.

"I think our O-line did an outstanding job for us and our defense came up big so we could maintain our lead," said Holman. "With only two victories last year, this is a huge win for us and it's the first time in 27 years that our school has started the season with a 4-0 record."

The statistics show that Tamaqua actually had more first downs than Mahanoy and was one yard less in passing yardage, but they couldn't stop Mahmod and his big play offense.

"We were not fast enough or athletic enough to keep up in this game, " said Bonner. "At halftime I told the team to not give up despite being down by so many points. We did score four touchdowns, but after that second quarter, that didn't count for much tonight."

If you don't count the second quarter, the Raiders would have won the game, 21-18.

But, oh what a difference those 12 minutes made.