Raiders jump on Panthers
BOB FORD TIMES NEWS Tamaqua's Dalton Nunemacher (26) leaps over teammate Jared Muffley as the Panthers' Anthony Staivecki (63), Richie Smith (31) and Mike Weaver (10) try to make the tackle.
Tamaqua senior running back Jarred Muffley had all eyes set on going over the 1,000-yard rushing mark for the season on Friday night when the Blue Raiders traveled to Panther Valley. So it was no surprise that he started on the venture right from the start.
Muffley scored the first of his four touchdowns on the night on the first offensive play of the game and the Blue Raiders never looked back in handing the Panthers a 39-6 setback in Anthracite Football League action.
The Raiders jumped out to a 33-0 lead in the first half, but the Panthers came out with a different swagger after intermission and made sure the game didn't end under the "Mercy Rule".
Muffley finished the night with 176 yards on 26 carries to top the 1,000-yard mark, needing just 152 entering the night.
"We played real well in the first half," said Tamaqua head coach Sam Bonner. "In the second half, we tried to emphasize we wanted to run the clock and we kind of did. But we had some drives, some turnovers, a late hit call and didn't score as much as we did earlier."
Tamaqua scored its first touchdown of the night less than a minute into the game. It was set up by Tyler Hope who ran back the opening kickoff all the way to the Panther Valley 23.
Muffley's first TD and a Lance Williams PAT made it 7-0 with only 17 seconds off the clock.
Dalton Nunemacher's first of three interceptions in the game set up the second Raider touchdown. He ran it back to the Panther four and then Muffley took it in from there to make it 14-0 for his second touchdown.
With 1:27 left in the first quarter, Muffley found the end zone again on a five-yard run to complete a 99-yard drive and the Tamaqua lead was 20-0.
"We wanted to get Muffley his 1,000 yards and then wanted to rest him because we have some other guys who are pretty good backs for us to so we wanted to give them some work," said Bonner. "When we were up 14, we made a big stop down on the goal line. You always like to see that out of your defense."
Luke Matsago recovered a Panther Valley fumble to give the Raiders the ball at the PV 31 to keep the momentum and three plays into the second quarter, they found the end zone again.
This time it was Hope, who broke loose on a 17-yard run for the score to make it 26-0.
Nunemacher intercepted his second pass of the night to set up another Tamaqua touchdown before the half. With 3:48 still on the clock in the second quarter, Muffley scored for the fourth time on a five-yard run capping a nine-play drive to give the Raiders a 33-0 advantage.
The Panthers' defense tightened up a bit in the second half and actually scored their lone touchdown of the night on a perfectly played screen pass from Anthony German to Rich Smith covering 68 yards with 7:10 on the clock in the fourth quarter.
Zach King recovered a couple of fumbles for the Panthers to halt Tamaqua offensive drives deep in PV territory,
Tamaqua added one more score on the night with 2:19 left in the final quarter when Nolan Ziegler bulled his way into the end zone from three yards out.
"We responded in the second half, but we expected to play better," said Panther Valley head coach Lon Hazlet. "We made mistakes in every facet of the game. We turned the ball over, we made mistakes in the kicking game, we just didn't play well at all. I'm disappointed in tonight's game.
The win kept the Blue Raiders in contention for the post-season with two games remaining.