Jim Thorpe falls on final play
It's been all about the big play this year for the Jim Thorpe Olympians.
Although, Thorpe has been able to generate big plays of their own with talented gun slinger Pat Duvigneaud it has been there inability to stop the "big one" that has plagued the Olympians all season.
Once again, JT let the big play beat them with a 39-yard hail mary pass from Shenandoah Valley quarterback Chris Palubinsky to Nick Merva with 11.4 second remaining in the fourth quarter. The score helped the Blue devils gain a 42-35 Anthracite Football League victory over Jim Thorpe.
The Blue Devils got out to an early 14-point lead after Palubinsky hit David Gotshall on a short pass that Gotshall took 45 yards for the score. On Shenandoah's very next possession Palubinsky hit John Storm on another 45-yard strike and things were not looking good early for the Olympians.
Much like they have all season however, Thorpe answered back and did so by scoring 21 points before the end of the first half.
Duvigneaud took it in from 21 yards out, Mike Harelston made a terrific catch in the back of the end zone, and Deonte St. Hill scored on a one-yard plunge to give JT a 21-14 halftime lead. St. Hill's score was set up by yet another highlight tape moment from Pat Duvigneaud. The senior signal caller ran the ball 69 yards down to the one yard line after making multiple Blue Devils miss.
Shenandoah used the ground and pound approach in the third quarter to thwart the Olympians momentum.
Kevin Karpovich and David Gotshall shouldered the load for the Blue Devils in the third and Shenandoah reclaimed a 28-21 lead. Karpovich scored on a four yard dash after Shenandoah drove the ball from their own 38-yard line. Gotshall then added another score to his resume on the evening with a three yard score. The Blue Devils drove the ball 80 yards for the score and was set up by a 38-yard pitch and catch between Palubinsky and Storm.
Jim Thorpe would once again not go away. Duvigneaud hit Mike Mulderig on a flea flicker for 48 yards, but Harelston's kick was blocked giving Shenandoah a one-point advantage.
The Blue Devils would then extend their lead to 35-27 at the 8:27 mark in the fourth when Gotshall took it in from three yards out. A 61-yard punt return by Merva set up Shenandoah with good field position.
The shootout continued when Duvigneaud hit Harelston with a perfect strike to the back of the end zone from 31 yards and Ryan Saunders would catch a pass from Duvigneaud for the two-point conversion to knot things up at 35.
Shenandoah would receive the ball with 1:25 remaining and then made the winning-play with 3.6 seconds left on the clock after the Palubinsky-Merva connection.
"Nick (Merva) is one of our play-makers and he went up and made a play," said Devils' coach Nick Sajone. "We need to take that play and use it as momentum to play better next week. Our kids played hard tonight, but we definitely have some problems on defense we need to address, but we're happy to get the win."
Jim Thorpe led in all but one game this season and had been leading at half in three out of five contests.
"We're one play away from being a 4-1 football team," said Jim Thorpe coach Mark Rosenberger. "It's frustrating to lose the way we did tonight, but I'm extremely proud of the way our kids played. They've been playing hard all season long and I feel for them for losing the way we have lost this year. We just have to keep playing hard and one of these game will fall our way."