Panther Valley crushes Thorpe
BOB FORD/TIMES NEWS Panther Valley's Kyle McAvoy releases a two-point conversion pass against Jim Thorpe
Now this was the Panther Valley team most people expected to see in 2009.
After three straight weeks of inconsistent play, the Panthers finally put it all together Friday night against rival Jim Thorpe.
Scoring on its first three possessions and relying on its talented skill players, PV dominated from start to finish to register a lopsided 50-6 Anthracite League win.
"If we come out, don't turn the ball over and play like we're capable of, we're going to be tough to beat," said Panther Valley head coach Frank Damian. "This was a total team effort on offense, defense, the coaching staff, everybody. It's just a great win for our program.
"We felt a little disrespected this week. We heard that we were going to be their fresh start. That fired us up a little bit. We wanted to come out right away and set dominance and show them that we are a physical team. We may not be the biggest in the world but we can be physical."
It's safe to say PV's mission was accomplished.
The Olympians tried to establish a running game early, but the host team quickly shut it down.
On offense, the Panthers (3-1) did a little bit of everything in jumping out to an early lead.
Kyle McAvoy, who ran for 123 yards on just 16 carries, had a direct hand in PV opening a 20-0 cushion. On his team's first possession he surprised the Thorpe team by tossing a 27-yard touchdown strike to Jake Dunn.
The senior running back followed that by scoring on runs of eight and 21 yards.
"We knew they were going to try and come out and blow us off the ball," said Dunn. "We buckled it up, put guys on the line and they couldn't do it.
"We have McAvoy and Casey (Lawrence) and they're always making big plays. When my number is called I'll try to make a big play too."
Dunn came up huge right before the half, basically putting the finishing touches on a shell-shocked Olympian squad.
Stepping in front of a Corey Cinicola pass, the PV defensive back not only intercepted the toss but returned it for a touchdown that stretched the margin to 28-0 with just 1:22 left in the second period.
"We thought we could do some things with our physical size up front against their smaller athletic kids," said Jim Thorpe mentor Mark Rosenberger, whose team fell to 1-3. "We thought we could try and smashmouth a little bit but that didn't work.
"They have some great football players over there. If you try and slow down one, another one kills you. Lawrence is a great quarterback, Dunn is an outstanding receiver, and McAvoy is a tremendous runner. They have some great weapons on their team and their line also played well."
Lawrence, who didn't figure in the first half scoring, made his mark after the second-half kickoff.
His pass to Ryan Porambo over the middle just two plays into the third quarter went for a 66-yard touchdown, kicking in the mercy rule. Later in the contest he executed a beautiful fake, kept the ball and went 50 yards down the sideline for yet another tally.
"We didn't want to let them breathe," said Damian. "When you get on teams, you have to stay on them. We don't want to let teams come back by allowing big plays. Those are things we've done in past games and they've hurt us. We worked on holding onto the ball and not allowing big plays.
"We feel we have some of the best athletes in the area on our team, but it all starts up front and our offensive line did a great job."
Jim Thorpe avoided a shutout late in the contest when Josh Dean returned a punt 57 yards for a touchdown, but the Panthers got that score right back when Josh Vega broke free for a 70-yard run down the sidelines.