For Lehighton, there is finally light at the end of the tunnel.
After finishing 1-9 last season, the Indians have already equaled that victory total.
Junior quarterback Josh Agosto completed 9 of 19 passes for 192 yards and two touchdowns and ran for the clinching TD in the closing moments to life Lehighton to a 27-18 non-league win over Tamaqua on Stadium Hill Friday night.
Operating out of the spread offense, Agosto's ability to scramble away from the Blue Raiders' pass rush and hit receivers gave the Tribe the edge it needed to even its record at 1-1.
"Josh was very composed," said Lehighton coach George Ebbert of Agosto, who also carried 17 times for 57 yards. "Tamaqua did a good job of keeping heat on us, and they took us away from some things we wanted to do. Josh is also dangerous when he gets in the open field for us."
The Raiders (0-2) got a big game from senior Grif Griffiths, who carried 22 times for 175 yards and two TDs and finished with 252 all-purpose yards, and welcomed back senior fullback-linebacker Garth Lakitsky from a knee sprain. Tamaqua actually outgained Lehighton in total yardage, 317-287.
The Raiders received a tough break when speedy junior flanker Jarred Muffley left the game after the first quarter with a hip pointer and didn't return. Muffley's absence in the secondary gave the Indians a spot they were able to exploit.
"We got out of our game a little bit," said Tamaqua coach Sam Bonner. "We played better than we did last week, but a couple of things just didn't go our way."
The Indians' Jeremy Zellers recovered a fumbled Tamaqua exchange in backfield on the Raider 38 to set up the Tribe's first score. Three plays later, Agosto hit Jacen Nalesnik, who pulled away from his defender for a 37-yard scoring strike. Nalesnik kicked the first of three extra points for a 7-0 lead with 4:05 left in the first quarter.
The Raiders returned the favor when Griffiths fell on a loose pigskin following a Agosto completion at the Tamaqua 33. Griffiths then broke off a 58 yard scamper to set up his own four-yard TD run.
Lance Williams' PAT kick hit the upright, keeping the score at 7-6 Lehighton with 7:25 left in the half.
Matt Rebovich's 60 yard return on the ensuing kick-off set up the second Indians' score, a seven-play, 32 yard drive capped by Agosto's 12-yard TD toss to Guiseppe Caruso at the 4:03 mark.
Griffiths answered with a 59 yard kick-off return of his own. Raider QB Ryan Palsgrove passed to Lakitsky for 30 yards to set up a three-yard Griffiths TD burst. The two-point PAT run by Griffiths failed, but Tamaqua pulled within 14-12 at the half.
A Griffiths 47 yard scamper on the Raiders' first series of the second half set up a 10-yard Lakitsky scoring blast to gave Tamaqua the lead at 18-14. Griffiths was stopped on another two-point PAT run attempt.
The Raiders then forced a Indians punt from the Lehighton 38, but Tamaqua was flagged for running into Nalesnik, the punter. With new life, the Indians picked up a first down, overcame a third-and-23 with a 52 yard bomb from Agosto to Anthony Farole, and scored on a four-yard Caruso TD run with 4:27 left in the third quarter.
The PAT pass failed, but the Indians regained the edge at 20-18.
"That was obviously a big call for them," said Bonner. "We had momentum going our way and our defense made a stand to get us the ball back."
The Raiders then advanced to the Indians 40 before the drive stalled. A Nalesnik punt pinned them on their own 5 to start the fourth quarter. Tamaqua never got out of that hole, and two series later turned it over on downs on its own 34, setting up a 21 yard Agosto TD run with 17.6 seconds left to seal it.
"It is one thing to see light at the end of the tunnel, but it's another thing to take advantage of it," said Ebbert.
Tamaqua is now seeking its own light. "I never expected to be 0-2, but we will bounce back," said Bonner.