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Lilly helps Pirates top Tamaqua

KINTNERSVILLE - Steven Lilly celebrated his 17th birthday Friday. But he might opt for 125 candles instead of 17. Or maybe just three.

The Palisades junior running back rushed for a career high 125 yards and three scores Friday night in a 35-7 Homecoming night win over Tamaqua.

The Pirates controlled the line of scrimmage to erase an early 7-0 deficit and run off 35 straight points.

“They were physical up front,” said Tamaqua head coach Sam Bonner. “I thought they took it to us on both sides of the ball up front. We couldn’t really get in any rhythm. They kept the ball away from us in the first half. We had a nice run, go up 7-0 and then the wheels kind of fell off the bus.”

The Raiders got on the board first when Warren Stewart (14 carries, 122 yards) broke a 55-yard run with 5:56 left in the first quarter

But Tamaqua (2-4) ran just nine more plays in the first half on two more possessions. The first ended in an interception and the second was a three-and-out.

The Pirates scored on threes straight possessions, including a back-breaking TD with 10 seconds left in the first half that stretched their lead to 21-7.

Lilly got his first one from four yards out with 8:09 left in the second quarter to cap a 17-play drive that used up over 10 minutes of the game clock.

Palisades quarterback Jaden Newton (9-for-13, 93 yards, TD) found Kyle Mcgrath for another score with 3:32 left in the half. After a Raider three-and-out the Pirates got the ball back with over two minutes left at the Tamaqua 37-yard line. Six plays later Kia Stiansen ran in from four yards out with 10 seconds left in the half.

“Mistakes, a couple penalties, turnovers,” said Bonner. “We had a lot of breakdowns at a lot of positions. It’s not one thing. I’m a little upset about that because our goal is to get better each week and we obviously didn’t get better from our last game.”

The Pirates (2-5) are a team that’s been getting better as they get healthier up front.

“We’ve been injury-riddled all year,” said Palisades head coach Ramie Moussa. “We were able last week to finally get some pieces back on the offensive line. And after a week of getting some playing time under our feet, we’re starting to play at the potential I thought we’d be at the beginning of the year.”

The Pirates added two fourth quarter touchdowns, both by Lilly. The 5-5, 185-pound former lineman who is listed on the roster as a center and middle linebacker, broke free from 30 yards out for his second score of the night with 8:42 on the clock. He turned a Mcgrath interception into points when he capped the scoring with a 9-yard TD run with 5:55 left in the game.

“He was an offensive lineman,” said Moussa. “He was our right guard last year. We converted him when we had all those injuries. It took him a couple of weeks but he’s figured it out.”

NO FLY ZONE...The Pirate secondary came up with two interceptions (by Noah Carr and Mcgrath). It didn’t allow a pass over eight yards and allowed just two completions of over four yards.

DISTRICT IMPACT... Palisades was eighth in the District 11 Class 2A rankings heading into the game, but Moussa said he expects they’ll move up at least 2-3 places with the win. Tamaqua was fourth in Class 3A coming into Friday’s game. Three games remain in the regular season.