PV leaves Tams in dark
BOB FORD/TIMES NEWS Panther Valley's Jake Dunn (3) hauls in a pass as Tamaqua's Tom Robin (26) defends. Dunn turned the play into an 81 yard TD.
The Homecoming crowd at Panther Valley Stadium had to endure two rain-soaked delays Friday night, after the lights went dark twice for a total of 25 minutes.
When the power was restored, it was the Panthers who played lights out" defense in the red zone against visiting archrival Tamaqua.
The Blue Raiders made three trips inside the PV 20, only to be held without a touchdown.
The Panthers' prime time passing combination of quarterback Casey Lawrence and wide receiver Jake Dunn took care of the rest, hooking up for a pair of scores to provide all the electricity PV needed for a 20-2 triumph in an Anthracite League battle in Lansford.
The victory snapped a four-game losing streak against Tamaqua and was the fifth straight win for the Panthers, who improved to 7-1 overall and remained unbeaten in Anthracite competition at 6-0.
This is one of our biggest rival games and the team we wanted to beat all year,"said Dunn, who caught four passes for 117 yards, as well as a two-point conversion. Last year we lost to Tamaqua and that kept us out (of the playoffs). It's a huge win for us."
The Panthers will travel to North Schuylkill, which remained undefeated (8-0 overall, 6-0 league) with a 40-0 win over Mahanoy Area, next Friday with first place on the line.
Tamaqua (6-2 overall, 4-2 league) held the momentum early.
The Raiders stopped a Panther drive at the Tamaqua 36 following the opening kickoff when the lights went out for the first time with 9:32 left in the first quarter, the result of a car hitting a utility pole.
When play resumed, the Raiders used the running of Grif Griffiths, who had a big night with 181 yards on 29 carries, to move to the PV 11 before running out of downs.
A bad snap by the Panthers resulted in a fumble that they recovered on their own 2. Griffiths then tackled Kyle McAvoy in the end zone for a safety and a 2-0 Tamaqua lead with 4:19 left in the first quarter.
The Raiders took the ensuing kickoff and marched to the PV 11, where fullback Garth Lakitsky was stopped on fourth down and one.
Four plays later Lawrence went up top for Dunn, who outleaped a defender near midfield and raced 81 yards untouched to paydirt. Brock Mitchell's conversion kick was blocked, but Panther Valley had stemmed the tide with a 6-2 lead at the 8:20 mark of the second stanza.
We got the match-up we wanted there, and we're going to throw it up, because it's like playing in the back yard with Casey and Jake," said Panther Valley coach Frank Damian. Big time players make big plays in big games."
Tamaqua took the second half kick-off and drove to the Panther 34, where a third down sack of QB Ryan Palsgrove by Brock Mitchell halted the threat.
Following a punt to the PV 8, the Panthers went on a 12 play, 92 yard scoring march, capped by a 20 yard TD toss by Lawrence to Dunn, who caught the pigskin in the flat and bulled his way into the end zone after picking up a pair of tacklers at the 5.
On the conversion, Lawrence tossed the ball to McAvoy, who lofted it for Dunn, who made a grabbing snag for the two-pointer and a 14-2 Panther advantage with 4:15 left in the third quarter.
The Raiders had a chance to cut into the deficit when Griffiths broke up the middle on a 53 yard scamper before Mike Weaver dragged him down at the PV 10. Tamaqua could move only to the 5 before the Panthers held once more on fourth and goal.
Our defense has been bend but don't break all year," said Damian. One of the slights against us in the past is that we weren't physical, but our kids took that to heart. They really dedicated ourselves in the offseason to becoming a physical football team, and our kids proved it tonight."
The Panthers tacked on another TD late in the fourth quarter after the Raiders turned it over on downs on their own 24. Kevin Schaller did the scoring honors on a six-yard run.
The Raiders ended up outgaining PV 239-221, had an edge in time of possession and didn't turn the ball over, but came up short the one place it mattered.
From the 20 to the 20, I thought we played a real good game, but we just didn't push it in when we had to,"said Tamaqua coach Sam Bonner. They are a tough red zone team. The most important thing on offense is scoring points, and we didn't do that."