Spartans crush Blue Raiders
FOUNTAIN SPRINGS - The North Schuylkill juggernaut marches on, crushing everything in its path.
The defending District 11 Class AA and Anthracite League champion Spartans continued to run roughshod Friday night, and this time Tamaqua was the victim.
Unleashing their devastating rushing attack, the Spartans cruised to a 49-0 whitewash of the Blue Raiders in front of a Homecoming crowd at Ghosh Orthodontics Field.
North Schuylkill, ranked fourth in AA in this week's Patriot-News statewide ratings, remained unbeaten at 6-0 (overall and Anthracite League) heading into next week's non-league showdown at home against rival Mount Carmel (5-1).
It is hard to say what was more impressive, the Spartans' offense, which piled up 374 yards on the ground, or their defense, which held Tamaqua (1-5 overall, 1-3 league) to a season-low 29 yards of total offense while posting its fourth shutout.
Through six games, the Spartans have now outscored their opponents by a whopping 277-22.
Leading the way for North Schuylkill was senior Ed Pavalko, a 6-1, 235 pound battering ram at fullback and linebacker. Pavalko needed just seven carries to amass 204 yards rushing, good for over 29 yards per carry. He hit paydirt three times, rambling for TDs of 41, 47 and 92 yards.
"We played real well," assessed North Schuylkill Rick Geist. "Our offense is rolling right now. "
(Pavalko) is big, he's fast, and he's strong. It was nothing fancy. We never do anything fancy."
After forcing a Raider punt following the opening kickoff, the Spartans began ripping off large chunks of real estate, driving 48 yards on just five plays, with an Ethan Motsney 23 yard run and a 15 yarder by Pavalko setting up a six yard TD on a pitch out to Scott Houser.
Charlie Hutnick booted the first of his six PAT kicks to make it 7-9 with 7:37 left in the first quarter.
Just 2:37 later, Pavalko cut right and broke outside for a 41-yard scoring scamper as the lead grew to 14-0.
The Raiders opened the second quarter on their own 48 and advanced to the NS 37, but a fumble on fourth down was recovered by the Spartans to thwart the threat.
"We picked up the first down there, but then we fumbled the ball after that," said Tamaqua coach Sam Bonner. "It's the kind of thing that has plagued us all year."
Six players later, and Houser bounced outside for a 47 yard TD ramble to widen the gap to 21-0.
Pavalko got loose on a 44 yard TD blast, and QB Ryan Henning hit Dylan Hughes on a 20-yard scoring strike with just 34.9 seconds left in the half, putting North Schuylkill's bulge to a comfortable 35-0 at the half.
North Schuylkill started the second half on its own eight due to a penalty, but that didn't prevent Pavalko from blasting his way through the line and rumbling coast to coast for his TD hat trick.
The Raiders' best shot at getting on the board in the second half came after Mike Sweigert intercepted a pass on the NS 35, but Lance Williams' 42 yard field goal attempt was just short.
Tamaqua will attempt to lick its wounds from the loss. Leading rusher Grif Griffiths was taken for x-rays after hurting his clavicle and tight end Jon Ansbach might have sustained a concussion, according to Bonner.