Tribe falls just short
BOB FORD/TIMES NEWS Lehighton's Billy Angst (4) is wrapped up by Stroudsburg's Elvin Charles.
A game that looked like it might be decided by multiple touchdowns, came down to just a few inches.
Down 14 points at halftime, playing in miserable weather conditions, and staring a sixth straight loss firmly in the face, it would have been easy for Lehighton to pack it in.
Instead, the Indians packed a second half punch.
In the end, however, a fourth down run in Stroudsburg territory came up just short and Mountaineers held on for a 14-13 victory on Friday night.
"We could have easily hung our heads and quit at halftime," said Lehighton coach George Ebbert. "But our kids didn't do that.
"I told them after the game that I loved their attitude and I loved how we played. We came up a little short, but it wasn't because of a lack of effort."
Trailing 14-0 at halftime, Lehighton got right back into the game on its first possession of the third quarter.
The Indians scored on a 55-yard pass from back-up quarterback Josh Agosto to JT Keer. Agosto, who had just entered the game after starting QB Kyle Hunter was shaken up, lofted the ball down the left sideline. Keer made a nice adjustment to the pass, went high to pull it in around the 25-yard line, and then raced into the end zone.
"We did a nice job in the first half, but for some reason we came out flat in third quarter," said Stroudsburg coach Fred Ross. "I thought the long pass to Keer gave Lehighton a spark and allowed them to get some momentum.
"I know Lehighton has had a number of their key players injured this year, but they are a tough team when they have all their players. With Hunter at quarterback and (Tim) Sulzer in the middle of their defense, they're a lot better than their record indicates."
The Indians pulled even closer the next time they got the ball, marching 55 yards in just six plays for a score. The big play was a 35-yard pass from Hunter to tight end Jacen Nalesnik. Hunter, who missed just one play after being banged up on the previous possession, then found Keer in the end zone for a 10-yard TD pass with 4:24 left in the third quarter. Nalesnik's conversion attempt had plenty of leg but was just wide, allowing the Mounties to maintain the lead, 14-13.
Lehighton failed to pick up a first down on either of its next two drives, but had one final chance after Stroudsburg turned the ball over on downs at the Indian 16-yard line with 2:34 remaining.
On the first play from scrimmage, Hunter and Nalesnik hooked up for a 42-yard gain that moved the ball into Mountie territory.
But on a 4th-and-6 play from the Stroudsburg 38, Hunter rolled left, tucked the ball away, and dove for the first down.
"That's just the way our season has gone," said Ebbert. "Kyle didn't have anyone open, so he pulled it down and tried to run for it. He gave an outstanding effort, but it ended up inches short."