Blue Raiders run past Minersville
The G&G Express has picked up momentum for Tamaqua.
The tandem of senior running backs Grif Griffiths and Garth Lakitsky is plowing its way through opposing defenses, and it has turned the Blue Raiders' fortunes around.
Griffiths carried 19 times for 161 yards and three TDs, and fullback Lakitsky added 13 carries for 84 yards and a TD as Tamaqua pulled away from Minersville for a 29-7 Anthracite League triumph Friday night on Stadium Hill.
On Senior Appreciation Night, the Raider upperclassmen enjoyed a home finale to remember, picking up their second straight win heading into next week's season closing rivalry game at Marian.
Tamaqua has just eight seniors on the roster, but after a 1-6 start with a number of close losses, head coach Sam Bonner began inserting some younger players into the line-up, including freshman QB Nate Edmonds, who made his second start in a row.
With G&G chewing up yardage, the Raiders have picked up steam.
"We're 3-6 (3-4 league), but we could easily be 6-3," said Bonner. "We're a young team, but we're getting better.
"We have four first-year starters on our offensive line, and they are getting better as the year goes on. It helps having Grif and Garth in the backfield. They throw nice blocks and complement each other."
Griffiths, who surpassed the 2,500 yard career rushing mark and now has 2,628, got the Raiders on the board after they took over on the Miners 32 following a short punt. Griffiths burst off tackle 14 yards to paydirt. Lance Williams' point-after kick was wide left, but the Raiders were in front 6-0 with 6:56 left in the first quarter.
"It was a 12 Power," said Griffiths of the scoring play, which worked well all game. "They picked up that we were running to the tight end side, so we felt we'd go away from the tight end and hit them off tackle."
The Battlin' Miners (2-7 overall, 1-6 league) answered with a 10 play, 83 yard march and scored when Jake Kopenitz rambled 18 yards for the TD on a fourth down reverse. Shayne Schafer's PAT kick put the Miners in front 7-6 with 1:41 left in the first period.
The Raider defense stiffened after that, holding QB Cole Weachock to 55 yards rushing and harrassing him into a 3-for-20 passing effort, with defensive back Dalton Nunemacher and lineman Peter Conforti getting interceptions.
Minersville was limited to a net minus 21 yards of total offense in the second half.
Tamaqua took the lead for good in the second stanza after Jon Ansbach recovered a muffed punt on the Miners 43, setting up a 37 yard scoring scamper by Griffiths for a 12-7 halftime advantage.
The Raiders pulled away with a 17 point fourth quarter, featuring an 11 yard TD run by Griffiths, a 23 yard field goal by Williams and a 24 yard TD blast from Lakitsky with 1:52 to go.
"We did take advantage of a lot of mistakes," said Bonner. "We went back and forth a bit in the first half and we got a little sloppy there, but it was good to see our guys make some big plays in the second half."