SCHUYLKILL HAVEN There's an old saying that is used in all walks of like and especially in the sports world and that saying is "where there's a will there's a way."
After Tamaqua's 32-14 Anthracite Football League victory over Schuylkill Haven on Friday there might be a new saying floating around the town of Tamaqua.
That saying might go a little like "where there's a Hope there's a way," as in Raiders' running back Tyler Hope. The senior had a monster game for big blue, rushing for 350 yards on 26 carries, scoring four touchdown in a rout of the Hurricanes.
Hope's running along with the strong play of Tamaqua's defense helped the Raiders get the "W", in turn keeping them in the hunt for the District 11 playoffs. All in all it was just a great performance on Friday night by the Tamaqua football team.
After punting on their first possession the Raiders scored on their next orchestrating an eleven play drive that was capped off by a Nate Edmonds 13-yard touchdown run.
Haven then answered back with a 10-play scoring drive of their own, and it looked like this game was going to be an ole' fashioned AFL dog fight.
However, Tyler Hope and the Tamaqua offensive line made sure that wasn't the case. Hope scored four straight touchdowns after Haven took a 7-6 lead on runs of 55, 2, 79, and 91 yards. The 'Canes defense was blown off the ball on each of Hope's runs and once the senior speedster got an opening he was off to the races.
"First off, my line did an amazing job tonight," said Hope. "They gave me time and then I could make the moves and cuts that I wanted. Coach Bonner asked me to break a big one tonight and I ended up breaking a couple, the line just did a great job of opening holes for me, and I'm just happy that I could come out here and help my team."
Hope is not only fast, but he's tough as he's been battling a back injury throughout the season. Tamaqua coach Sam Bonner has had to limit him in practice in order for him to be ready for game day, but obviously when rested and semi-healthy Hope can certainly make an impact.
"Tyler is one of those guys who you always want on your football team," said Bonner. "With his injury we really don't practice him all that much and by watching him tonight it doesn't seem like he needs much practice. Seriously though, he's been suffering through this injury all year and this is probably the most he's been out there all season. There's no doubt when he's on the field that we're a different team and that showed tonight."
Another important catalyst in the Raiders win was the play of the defense. The Raiders allowed just 233 yards of total offense to a very good Schuylkill Haven team. They were the epitome of a bend, but don't break defense and they never let the 'Canes gain any momentum. The Raiders secondary played especially well, holding talented Haven quarterback Ryan Fink to just 12 yards rushing and 34 yards passing. Fink was constantly under duress and because of the Raiders pressure threw two interceptions in the fourth quarter, while trying to get the Hurricanes back in the game.
"We have a lot of young players on the field for us defensively due to injuries, but they stepped up tonight," said Bonner. "Another thing we did tonight is that we didn't turn the ball over. Anytime you can make big plays, play solid defense, and then don't turn the ball over you have a good chance at coming out on top."
Schuylkill Haven tacked on another score at the end of third, but the Raiders momentum was too much for Schuylkill Haven to overcome.
"Give them all the credit in the world because they played way better than us tonight," said Haven coach Mike Farr. "We just came out flat and they jumped on us and ran the ball right at us. They're a good football team and they definitely took it to us tonight."