Last night's 49-19 loss to Blue Mountain was a nightmare revisited for Jim Thorpe coach Mark Rosenberger.
Coming off last week's stellar performance against Tamaqua in which the Olympians allowed the Raiders only 75 yards rushing, Rosenberger and the JT loyal fan base were hoping that this year's emphasis on physical play and fundamental tackling would pay off again in their home opener against an Eagle team that came in at 0-1.
"It was like a bad dream from last year had come back," said the Olympian coach. In 2012, JT's defense relinquished hundreds of rushing yards and 42 points per game. "We just couldn't tackle. Give credit to Bornstein (BM back who gained 252 yards on the night)," but we were out of alignment and missed assignments on top of so many missed tackles."
Actually there were enough first half signs that JT would not only stay with Blue Mountain, but could actually win the game. After the Olympians failed to take advantage of a Blue Mountain fumble on the opening kickoff, the Eagles' Will Bornstein got the edge on Thorpe's defense and raced 90 yards to put Blue Mountain up 7-0. JT answered back with a beautiful 21-play, 65-yard drive capped off by quarterback Ryan Saunders' four yard TD run. The drive took nearly eight minutes off the clock and at the 11:15 mark of the second quarter, Blue Mountain had run exactly two offensive plays from scrimmage.
No matter, because nine plays later, Eagle QB Shane Grapsy peeled around the left side of Thorpe's defense and his team took a 14-7 lead. The Olympians answered again as Deonte St. Hill rushed up the middle for a nine-yard touchdown to make the score, 14-13.
But it was Bornstein once again who tallied the second of his four touchdowns with a 47-yard burst through several JT arm tackles to give the Eagles an eight-point advantage at the half.
The feeling throughout the home stadium was that the Olympians would hang tough in the second half, but a fumbled opening kick off return was a huge momentum killer. Blue Mountain was left with just 26 yards to get to the Thorpe goal line and they did it in one play when Grapsy hit an uncovered Bayne Keitsock for TD pass play to open the margin to 28-13.
Jim Thorpe went four and out and never recovered as the Eagles scored on their next three possessions to put the game into the mercy mode.
"Our goal was to get Bornstein on the edge and it worked pretty well," said Blue Mountain coach Corey Mabry, who earned his first victory at the school. "He's a great back and when you see it in his eyes, you just know he's going to produce. We also made some alignment adjustments at halftime to control Saunders who is a terrific athlete in his own right. So we were able to stop him from making any more big runs against us."
Jim Thorpe finished the scoring with a Saunders to Robert Geisinger TD pass for 32 yards.
"I think we embarrassed ourselves tonight," said Rosenberger. "We had too many defensive breakdowns as well as penalties That kick return fumble turned into a two touchdown swing for them."
He did see the positive side, a consistent statistic brought over from last week when the Olympians gained 351 rushing yards against Tamaqua.
"We ran the ball well again," Rosenberger added. "But that third quarter just killed us."
It's back to tackling drills and assignment football this week as Jim Thorpe prepares to host North Schuylkill next Friday night.