PV defense makes stand
Pleasant Valley's defense picked the perfect time to make a stand.
After three weeks of struggles, the Bears' "D" rose to the occasion on Friday night against Lehighton.
With its high-powered offense unable to to generate any points, Pleasant Valley needed that kind of defensive effort to escape with a 7-6 Mountain Valley Conference victory over Lehighton.
The Bears entered the game having allowed an average of over 48 points a game this season. Obviously, any help they could get on the defensive side of the ball would be appreciated.
Mother Nature provided that assist.
Pleasant Valley then made sure the assist didn't go to waste.
"We had given up quite a few points in our first three games, but I never lost faith in our defense," said Pleasant Valley coach Jim Terwilliger. "I had great confidence that they could play like they did tonight.
"I think it will provide our kids with a lot of confidence going forward."
With a pounding rain storm and a muddy field severely hampering both offenses, Pleasant Valley's defense was forced to rise to the occasion time and time again in the second half.
Three times in the final period, Lehighton possessions ended in Bear territory.
"We did some bending, but we didn't break," said Terwilliger. "We weren't able to generate much offense in the second half so that put a lot of pressure on our defense. But we found a way to make a big play every time we needed one."
Leading 7-6 at halftime thanks to a 46-yard punt return to Rob Getz in the opening quarter, Pleasant Valley managed just one first down in the second half and that didn't come until the game's closing minutes. Meanwhile, Lehighton had possessions end on downs at both the PV 32-yard line and 22-yard line and had a final chance spoiled by an interception in the Bear end zone.
"It's frustrating," said Lehighton coach George Ebbert. "We controlled the ball offensively in the second half and our defense was outstanding.
"But we just couldn't come up with the one big play that we needed. Give Pleasant Valley credit, its defense found a way to keep us out of the end zone every time it looked like we were going to punch one in."
The final and biggest stop by the Bears came with under a minute to play. With the Indians facing a thrd-and-14 play call from the PV 28 yard line, Dean Bumbulsky picked off an Anthony Farole pass in the end zone.
"Anytime you play a tight game like this, it's going to come down to the little things," said Terwilliger. "We had two or three defenders in great position on that final pass and it paid off in an interception; we didn't do much offensively in the second half but Rob [Getz] broke that big [30-yard] run on our last possession to get us out of poor field position; and our special teams came through with the punt return and the huge extra point in very difficult conditions.
"We needed everyone of those plays or we don't win this game."
The victory moves the Bears to 2-2 overall and 1-0 in the MVC. Lehighton is also 2-2 and is 0-1 in league play.
"I don't think we could ask for more from our defense," said Ebbert. "Coach [Cory] Hartsell and coach [Chris ] Knappenberger did a great preparing our kids for a very good offensive football team. Other than that punt return, I thought we did an excellent job containing Getz.
"Offensively, we seemed to be able to move the ball between the 20s, but we just weren't able to capitalize and turn our scoring opportunities into points."
The only points Lehighton was able to muster came on a Farole to Jacen Nalesnik 15-yard touchdown pass with with 2:52 remaining in the first half. But the snap on the conversion attempt was low and holder Farole was forced to scoop it up and try a desperation pass that fell incomplete.