Flail's returns spark NS
North Schuylkill's Scott Houser runs through a hole in the Tamaqua defense. Among the Raider defenders are Anthony Bumbulsky (left) and Peter Conforti (51).
Flail - 1. (noun) hand threshing instrument consisting of a wooden handle at the end, of which a shorter stick is hung as to swing freely;
2. (verb), to thrash, to beat hard;
3. North Schuylkill junior defensive back Kody Flail.
Kody Flail earned his own place in the lexicon, as a synonym for "opportunistic", following his remarkable performance against Tamaqua Friday night.
Flail recovered two fumbles, returning one for a touchdown, and also took an interception and kick-off the distance to break open an Anthracite League showdown between unbeaten teams on Stadium Hill.
Despite outgaining Tamaqua by just a 29 yard margin (162-133), the Spartans cashed in on five turnovers to "flail" the Blue Raiders for a 45-14 victory.
The Homecoming crowd of 2,651 paid saw Tamaqua (5-1 overall, 3-1 league), off to its best start since 1956, jump out to an early advantage.
Cornerback Tom Robin intercepted a Tom Ferrari pass on the North Schuylkill 43 on the Spartans' first series. Raider quarterback Ryan Palsgrove dashed 36 yards on an option keeper down to the NS 7, and three plays later, Grif Griffiths plunged into the end zone from the one. Lance Williams' PAT kick made it 7-0 Raiders with 7:26 left in the first quarter.
The Spartans (6-0 overall and league) responded with an eight-play, 60 yard march, capped by Ed Pavalko bulling his way for a one-yard TD blast. Charlie Hutnick's conversion kick was wide left, however, and Tamaqua remained ahead at 7-6.
That was North Schuylkill's best drive of the game, but with the way their defense and special teams was scoring, they didn't need much from the offense, getting 28 points off miscues and adding a kick return score.
In fact, with Election Day coming up, most politicians would love to have the returns the Spartans enjoyed against the Raiders.
"It's not too often someone scores 45 points against you and you can say your defense played a good game, but our defense only gave up 10 points," said Tamaqua coach Sam Bonner. "We knew we couldn't make even 1-2 mistakes, and we made a lot."
A bobbled kick-off pinned the Raiders back on their own 12, and two plays later, Flail scooped up a loose pigskin and scooted eight yards to paydirt, Steve Houser ran it in for the two-point conversion to put the Spartans on top 14-7 with 3:48 still left in the first quarter.
Flail was at it again in the second quarter, as he picked off a Palsgrove pass, followed his blocks and raced 53 yards for his second TD return. Hutnick's boot made it 21-7 Spartans with 9:22 remaining in the half.
"We didn't play well on offense at all, but Kody Flail has been playing really well, and he's played just about everywhere for us this year," said North Schuylkill coach Rick Geist. "He's played defensive end, linebacker, safety and cornerback. He was at outside linebacker on the interception."
"It was all the defense," said Flail. "We've been playing lock-down defense. Our motto is 'light's out', and except for that one drive, we didn't give anything up."
North Schuylkill also took advantage of a short field, thanks to a coffin corner Ethan Motsney punt that pinned the Raiders back on their two. Taking over on the Raider 20 after forcing a punt, Hutnick kicked a 24 yard field goal to put the Spartans up 24-7 at the half.
If the Raiders harbored any comeback hopes, Flail quickly deflated them when he returned the second half kick-off 81 yards to the house, pushing the Spartans margin to 31-7.
North Schuylkill's Steve Ennis took his turn when he intercepted a pass by back-up QB Mike Streisel and rambled 67 yards for a TD. The Spartan reserves turned a muffed punt in the fourth quarter into a one-yard TD run by QB Ryan Henning.
The Raiders finally snapped the Spartan scoring string when Jared Muffley did some returning of his own, racing 75 yards up the gut for a TD on a kick-off with 1:16 left.