Indians get offensive
bob ford/times news Lehighton's Jacen Nalesnik (88) followers his blockers after taking a handoff. Kevin Dunn (4) is the Panthers' defender.
Lehighton head coach George Ebbert knew he had a lot of offensive weapons and wanted to test them out before the Indians ventured into Mountain Valley Conference play next week.
Panther Valley head coach Frank Damian knew the Indians would be tough to stop and watched his young Panthers give it a valiant effort for over a quarter.
Junior quarterback Josh Agosto masterminded a 23-point second quarter to give the Indians a big cushion and they wound up getting a 33-12 victory over the Panthers on Thursday night at LHS Stadium.
It was the third time the two teams met on a Thursday and it was the first time the Indians were able ton notch the "W."
"We knew they were a big play team because they scored on a lot of big plays the first two weeks," said Damian. "We just couldn't stop them. They just ran the ball down our throat and then they opened up the passing game."
It was an interception by Lehighton's Mitchell Moyer that got things started to halt a Panther drive in the first quarter. Agosto capped a seven-play drive with a 30 yard touchdown run and Jacen Nalesnik booted the PAT to make it 7-0 with 3:53 on the clock.
The Panthers marched right back when Josh Vega rambled 17 yards for a touchdown just over a minute later. The extra point attempt failed keeping the Indians in front 7-6.
Less than a minute into the second quarter, Agosto took over.
When the night was over, he finished completing 9 of 12 passes for 178 yards and two TDs and had a touchdown himself.
First he hit Nalesnik on a 35-yard pass in the end zone for six. Nalesnik added the point after.
Then he engineered a 8-play 67-yard drive and hit Nalesnik again for six from three yards out with 6:18 left in the half making it 20-6.
The Indians went to the run with Guiseppe Caruso scoring on a three-yard scamper after gaining 18 yards on the play before to set up the TD.
Then the clincher came with 32 seconds left in the half when Agosto rolled out and fired a 71-yard strike to Anthony Farole for another score. Nalesnik's third placement of the night made it 33-6 at the half.
"We moved (Jacen) Nalesnik around to try and keep them off balance," said Ebbert. "We lined him up at tight end, split him wide and even ran a sweep with him carrying the ball.
"Add Agosto and Caruso to that and we have a lot of weapons. We're going to keep spreading people out to try and keep defense off balance.
"Agosto's touchdown passes were real impressive because he's a righty and threw three of them rolling out to his left. He's a pretty smart kid so we give him the option of checking off if he doesn't think the play will work and he's done a good job."
With rain picking up in the second half, neither team mustered much offense in the third quarter. Both coaches actually played a lot of reserves, not taking the chance of having anyone getting banged up with big matchups ahead for both next week.
The Panthers added a score with 1:07 left in the game when sophomore Anthony German connected with Paul Mika for a 41-yard TD.
"This was a big win for us entering league play at Pleasant Valley," said Ebbert. "I've seen improvement each week and that's what we're striving for."
For Damian and the Panthers, it doesn't get any easier as they take on Jim Thorpe in an Anthracite Football League contest.
"We're a young team and now we just have to bounce back."