North Schuylkill Survives Raider Rally
TAMAQUA – The clock ticked down in the fourth quarter. The “Pink-Out” crowd started to fade, and it looked as though North Schuylkill was headed for a comfortable 21-6 victory over the Tamaqua Blue Raiders on the road. Until, with 4:22 remaining, Tamaqua senior Tyler Hope took a swing pass 24 yards for a score with an extraordinary combination of speed and power to outmuscle and outrun defenders. Tamaqua was re-energized. The shockwave went through not only the starters, but the sideline, the crowd, and even the marching band was fired up.
Tamaqua, however, had been battling throughout the entire game, but without the spark of intensity they roared out with in the second half, North Schuylkill was able to jump out to an early lead on runs by Austin Hummel and Bobby Grigas. The Blue Raiders struggled on offense throughout the first half with three dropped passes and a fumble inside the 10 yard line, but it looked like they’d survive the half only down by one touchdown. With 36 seconds left, Spartan QB Grigas rolled to his right and hooked up with his big target, the 6’5″ Tevin Murray, for a 30 yard score.
Despite the deficit and low offensive production, Tamaqua came down the hill from the locker room hooting and hollering. The ecstatic and inspired Tamaqua squad battled like there was no tomorrow, turning away North Schuylkill four straight times in the redzone before Hope’s touchdown. The Blue Raiders quickly forced a North Schuylkill punt, but could not get the offense restarted and had to punt deep in there own territory. Junior punter Jake Humes put the visiting Spartans back across the 50 and set up Tamaqua’s defense to make one final stand. For two plays, North Schuylkill backs, Grigas and freshman fullback Major Jordan, were stopped for little to no gain, but on third down, Hummel raced into Blue Raider territory and allowed the Spartans to run the clock out and escape with a hard fought win.
The win sets the Raiders back at 3-3 and 1-3 in the AFL and on the outside track for the postseason. Upcoming for Tamaqua is preseason AFL favorite Schuylkill Haven who is coming off a 48-7 shellacking of the Shenandoah Valley Blue Devils. North Schuylkill improves to 4-2 (4-2 AFL) and will take on Mount Carmel Area next week at the Silver Bowl in Mount Carmel.
NOTES – The Thursday before the game against Schuylkill Haven, the Blue Raiders will be hosting there second annual Community Pep Rally at the Southward Playground on the 300 block of Penn Street in Tamaqua.
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