Bennie leads Stroudsburg
Bob Ford/TIMES NEWS Lehighton quarterback Josh Agosto gets ready to throw a pass during the Indians game against Stroudsburg Friday.
On a night where everything surrounding Lehighton's football game was tinged in pink, a golden performance by Stroudsburg quarterback Robbie Bennie left the Indians feeling blue.
Bennie put on an incredible display of power and durability, carrying the ball 32 times for 198 yards and three touchdowns. The Mountaineers needed Bennie's heroics to rally on two different occasions and escape with a 20-19 Mountain Valley Conference victory.
"He's the best player around," said Stroudsburg coach Joe Bernard about his senior quarterback. "We just decided to ride him in the second half.
"We put the ball in his hands and let him do his thing. Robbie is big, strong, fast and a great competitor. He just ran through tackles the entire second half. But that's not unusual. That's what he does."
Bennie was Stroudsburg's offense in the second half. During the final two quarters, he was involved in 28 of the Mounties' 32 plays from scrimmage, running the ball 22 times and passing it six.
"He was a one-man gang," said Lehighton coach George Ebbert. "I thought we did a pretty good job defending him in the first half. But in the second half, they ran him on what seemed like every play.
"He's such a big kid and such a hard runner. I think he just wore us down a little in the second half."
Lehighton (2-5) looked set to pull an upset early in the game as it jumped out to a 13-0 lead.
Quarterback Josh Agosto produced the first score on a 46 yard run.
An outstanding 59-yard punt return by Jeremy Zellers, highlighted by a punishing block from Jacen Nalesnik that sprung him down the sideline, set up Lehighton's next score. Three plays later, Agosto hit Alex Storm with a five-yard TD pass. The score came with just 1:39 left in the half.
But after having just two first downs in the game up until that point, the Mountaineers marched 70 yards in just five plays to get on the board. Bennie completed passes of 29 and 18 yards in the drive and also had a big run. He scored on a one-yard run with :36 remaining in the half.
That lead held up until just 5:12 remained in the game when Bennie raced 16 yards for a 14-13 Stroudsburg lead.
Lehighton answered back on its first play from scrimmage following the score when Agosto hit Anthny Farole with a quick pass in the flat. Farole made several tacklers miss and then outraced the Mountaineer secondary down the sideline for a 65-yard TD.
"I'm proud of how we responded after they took they lead," said Ebbert. "That showed a lot of character on our part.
"But we just seem to be snake bitten. We have to find a way to turn these close losses into wins ... and I'm confident that we are going to do that."
They didn't do it last night because Bennie wasn't going to be denied. Taking over on their own 33-yardline following the Indian kickoff, Stroudsburg (5-2) needed seven plays to get into the end zone for the winning score. Bennie's running produced all but one of the 67 yards, including the final two with 2:27 to play.
In honor of breast cancer awareness month, Lehighton staged a "pink out" on Friday night. Everything from the players socks, to the coaches shirts, to the cheerleaders' pom-poms, to the yard lines on the field were colored pink.
But in the end, Bennie's performance was brighter than anything else on the field.