Tamaqua lets one slip away
Bob Ford/TIMES NEWS Tamaqua quarterback Matt DelBorrello tries to break away from Shenandoah's Eric Whalen during last night's Anthracite Football League game.
With less than 10 minutes remaining, Tamaqua had a comfortable three touchdown lead over Shenandoah Valley on "Hall of Fame Induction Night" on Raider Hill.
The Blue Devils' junior quarterback Christopher Palubinsky seemed to feel that there was still plenty of time left and he was right.
Palubinsky threw for two touchdowns and ran for another to lead the Blue Devils to a 28-21 comeback victory that left a sour taste in the mouths of the Blue Raiders.
"We had a couple chances to stop them on third down in the end, but those plays at the end didn't go our way," said a disappointed Tamaqua head coach Sam Bonner.
Palubinsky connected with William Moyer for his first touchdown pass covering 37 yards after the Blue Devils recovered a Tamaqua fumble on the previous play. Palubinsky ran in for the two-point conversion to make it 21-14 with 9:29 left.
The Blue Devils took over on their own 40 after a Raider punt and Palubinsky went to work again. Faced with a third down and 10, Palubinsky took off on a keeper and raced 40 yards into the end zone with 4:13 left. A pass for the two-point conversion failed and Tamaqua still had the lead, 21-20.
The Raiders needed to pick up a first down or two, but went four-and-out and the Blue Devils took over on their own 45 with 2:22 left to play.
Palubinsky picked up a first down at the Tamaqua 44, but the Raider defense stiffened and with 1:26 left, the Blue Devils were faced with a 3rd-and-10.
It was Moyer who Palubinsky would look for again and he threw a perfect pass over the Raider defenders for a 44-yard TD. Eric Whalen bulled in for the two-point conversion putting Shenandoah Valley in front to stay 28-21.
Tamaqua actually owned the first three quarters and a big goal line stand at the end of the first half when it stopped the Blue Devils on four straight running plays inside the five sent it to the fieldhouse with a 7-0 lead at intermission.
"Psychologically I thought that was big and then we came out and scored right away," said Bonner. "You have to give them credit.
"I said with the passing game they have, being up two scores doesn't mean much. They have guys that can make plays.
"We've been saying all week they've had some weapons. In the first half, we did a heckuva job containing them, but they made plays when they had to make plays."
Tamaqua's first touchdown came on a seven-yard run by Nolan Ziegler on a five-play, 55-yard drive with 4:27 in the first quarter. Lance Williams booted the first of three PAT's for a 7-0 lead.
Matt DelBorrello gave the Raiders a 14-0 lead with less than two minutes gone in the third quarter when he raced 54 yards into the end zone.
Ziegler scored another TD from seven yards out with 10:37 left in the game and that was the final time the Raiders would score.
The Raiders (1-2) now travel to undefeated Mahanoy Area next Friday night, while the Blue Devils (2-1) visit Minersville.