Thorpe falters in second half
SCHUYLKILL HAVEN It's been a common problem for Jim Thorpe this year.
And on Saturday, despite a 17-hour break, it happened again.
During the 2012 season, the Olympians have excelled throughout the first half only to watch things slip away over the final 24 minutes.
Unfortunatly for Mark Rosenberger and his squad, the pattern held true at Schuylkill Haven as the Hurricanes used a big third quarter to take the lead and then held on for a 50-42 Anthracite Football League win.
"We talked to our kids about coming out and starting fast and getting it done," said Rosenberger, whose club gained a 28-21 lead Friday before storms forced the contest to be finished Saturday afternoon. "We just didn't get kick-started on defense and then our offense went three-and-out twice. It really snowballed on us there.
"We lacked the emotion and passion we had in the fourth quarter. It just wasn't there in the third quarter. That's been killing us all year. We need to be more consistent with our efforts."
Schuylkill Haven (4-4) was extremely consistent in its play Saturday.
The Hurricanes received the second-half kickoff and dominated in that third frame. Running the ball on all 19 plays of the quarter, Haven registered 152 yards and two touchdowns - both by Will Casella - to take a 35-28 advantage. Conversely, Jim Thorpe (which has outscored opponents 144-128 in the first half this season only to be outscored 78-28 in the third quarter) only had possession twice during that period. The Olympians managed just 11 yards and had to punt both times.
"We knew we had to come out and score," said Hurricane mentor Mike Farr, whose team ran for 435 yards, 196 of them by Casella. "And we knew we needed a stop. We got both of them done.
"We really didn't make any major adjustments. Ultimately our game plan was correct. We just weren't executing on defense."
Many defenses, though, have failed to execute against Pat Duvigneaud.
Jim Thorpe's quarterback watched as Schuylkill Haven extended its lead (42-28) with a Ryan Fink 34-yard scoring run early in the fourth quarter, but the senior play-maker quickly brought his team back.
After scrambling for 13 yards to convert a third-and-long, Duvigneaud hit Mike Harletson for a 36-yard touchdown pass with over seven minutes left in regulation.
"What a bunch of athletes they have," said Farr. "Those two kids (Duvigneaud and Harleston) are absolutely the best two athletes on this field or any field that I've seen this year. They're two great players."
It looked like the duo had worked some more magic late in the game to lead a comeback, but the official saw things differently.
Trailing by eight points with under two minutes to play, the Olympians were staring at a fourth-and-12. Duvigneaud moved out of the pocket and fired one downfield that Harleston looked to have caught around the 'Canes 40. The pass, however, was ruled incomplete.
Haven took over on downs and Todd Zimmerman broke free for a 30-yard touchdown run. On the play, Zimmerman lost the ball but it was ruled he had crossed the goal line before it came loose.
Duvigneaud, who finished with 133 yards rushing and 261 yards passing, managed to get that score back by hitting Mike Mulderig with a 30-yard scoring toss with 24.4 seconds to play. But the Hurricanes recovered an onsides kick attempt and ran out the clock.
"I'm not going to blame the referees for us losing the football game," said Rosenberger, who was visibly upset about the incomplete ruling. "That's not why we lost the game. We lost the game because we didn't play in the third quarter and we didn't play any defense.
"Pat had an outstanding game. He made plays all over the field for us. .... We just couldn't stop their running game. Give a lot of credit to their line. They're big and physical. That's the strength of their team."