Friday, September 15, 2023

Spartans Weather Tamaqua's Late Surge, Claim Win on the Road

Under the "Thursday" night lights, the North Schuylkill Spartans clashed with the Tamaqua Raiders.

North Schuylkill was favored to win this one but when it comes to coal region football, anything is possible, plus the Raiders were looking for their first win of the season.

From the very beginning, North Schuylkill demonstrated their intentions, winning the coin toss and opting to receive the ball. On their initial drive, they marched down the field, advancing all the way to the Tamaqua 29-yard line. However, their aspirations were dashed when they turned the ball over on downs.

Undeterred, North Schuylkill returned to the field for their next possession, determined to make a statement. It was Jaxson Chowansky who spearheaded the drive, ultimately bulldozing his way into the end zone with a 1-yard run, leaving just 1:16 on the first-quarter clock. Gavin Mentzer's extra point kick secured the Spartans' early lead, making it North Schuylkill 7, Tamaqua 0.

As the action intensified into the second quarter, the Spartans showed no signs of slowing down. With 10:51 remaining in the first half, wide receiver Joey Flail connected with quarterback Caden Mengel for a spectacular 32-yard touchdown pass, extending North Schuylkill's lead to 14-0.

The Raiders, desperate to get on the scoreboard, mounted a drive of their own, but North Schuylkill's Colin McGee had other plans. McGee intercepted a pass with 9:27 left in the second quarter, thwarting Tamaqua's efforts. Although the drive stalled, it was close enough for Mentzer to add three more points with a 35 yard field goal, pushing the Spartans further ahead at 17-0.

With seconds remaining in the first half, Chowansky delivered once more for North Schuylkill, rushing for another touchdown, capping off a dominant first-half performance with a score of 24-0 in favor of the Spartans.

The second half saw North Schuylkill continue their offensive onslaught, as Ricky Halford broke free for an impressive 35-yard touchdown run, leaving Tamaqua struggling to find answers.

But the Raiders were not ready to concede defeat just yet. In the third quarter,  Damon Sell hauled in a touchdown pass from quarterback Luke Kane, putting Tamaqua on the board at 31-7 with 1:13 left in the period.

Tamaqua's momentum surged when Michael Styka recovered a North Schuylkill fumble with just 27.9 seconds remaining in the third quarter. Kane then showcased his dual-threat ability, running for a touchdown and connecting with Jacob Hehn for a two-point conversion, narrowing the deficit to 31-15 with 9:35 left in the game.

Tamaqua appeared to be mounting a comeback, but North Schuylkill had one last trick up their sleeve. A 30-yard touchdown pass to Joey Flail sealed the deal for the Spartans, extinguishing any hopes of a Raider resurgence.

In the end, the final score read North Schuylkill 38, Tamaqua 15, as the Spartans improved their record to a 3-1. Their next challenge awaits them at home against Northern Lehigh next Friday. 

Meanwhile, Tamaqua falls to 0-4 on the season and will continue their quest for their first victory as they travel to Salisbury Township in the upcoming week.

Photos and Story by J. Reed / Skook News