Raiders second half tames PV
BOB FORD/TIMES NEWS Tamaqua's Tyler Hope tries to get away from Panther Valley's Cee Keo during action in the Anthracite Football League on Friday night.
With the emergence of the Halloween season and under the blaze of a full moon, Tamaqua's 32-14 win over Panther Valley appeared to mimic the personalities of the classic horror story, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
During the first half, the Raider offense was basically quiet and unassuming like Jekyll as the Panther defense was the monster in Hyde as they played perhaps their best half of football this year in limiting Tamaqua to only 59 yards rushing and just 46 of those came from the legs of Tyler Hope who started the game averaging over 11 yards per carry.
Then, after an exchange of punts, Panthers' quarterback, Kyle Ferryman capped a nine play, 59 yard drive with a six yard touchdown run to give his team an early lead.
The Raiders would answer in the first minutes of the second quarter as quarterback Nate Edmonds found senior tight end Adam Frantz with a 15 yard scoring strike. Then, after a 46 yard kick return by Panther Valley's Jacob Suveg, Richard Nase., who gained 94 yards on the night, busted a run up the middle for a 29 yard touchdown to put the Panthers up by eight with seven minutes to go in the half. Suveg intercepted Edmonds on Tamaqua's next drive and s his PV's "D" stopped a 12 play Raider drive on their next possession as the clock expired.
"I told my team to be careful," said Panthers' coach Lon Hazlet. "You don't win a game in one half."
"Their defense confused us in the first half," said Raiders' coach Sam Bonner. "They were switching from a 50 to a 40 look and jamming the gaps to shut off our running game. At the break, we told our line to keep their heads up on their defenders and finish their drive blocks and it made a big difference."
In the third quarter, the roles seemed to switch as Panther Valley became Jekyll while Tamaqua took on the look of the monster Hyde by dominating both sides of the ball. In fact, the Raiders controlled the time of possession too as PV had two three and outs in the third quarter and didn't get a first down until half way through the fourth.
Hope, who had rushed for only 46 yards on 11 carries in the first half had a monster second half himself, carrying the ball 17 times for 151 yards and three consecutive touchdowns.
"We kind of panicked in the first half," said the senior running back. "But then in the second half our line blocking was amazing and that gave me so many chances. They opened the holes and I started to make the right cuts once I got through to get the extra yards.'
The Raider offense spent over five minutes at the start of third quarter before Hope cut through the Panther defense for a 5 yard TD run to cut the deficit to two points.
After a Panther punt, Zach Zucatti grabbed an Edmond's pass over the middle for a 41 yard gain setting up another short scoring run by Hope that gave the Raiders the lead for good.
"When we watched the film we saw that they didn't have a lot of depth," said Bonner, " and I think we wore them down somewhat in the second half."
" We don't use our lack of depth as an excuse," said Hazlet. "We just didn't play well down the stretch."
By the night's end, the featured matchup between PV's two-headed monster in Ferryman and Nase against the relentless Hope for Tamaqua disappointed no one who was there to watch two local teams battle until the final whistle.
One has to only wonder though whether or not the Raiders drummed up some special potion in their locker room at half time like the good Dr. Jekyll did to transform into the second half beast that in this football game empowered them to outscore the Panthers 26-0 in the final 24 minutes.