By Marion Valanoski
The Daily Item
COAL TOWNSHIP —
Shikellamy turned a potential playoff matchup into a runaway Friday night to move closer to a home game in the District 4 Class AAA playoffs.
Dwayne Pepper scored on runs of 78 and 42 yards and Ernie Tyler came off the bench to throw two touchdown passes as Shikellamy broke open a close matchup with a solid second-half, topping the Indians, 41-17.
Tyler, who was expected to alternate series with starter Garrett Kemberling, came into the matchup on the game’s third play following an injury to the junior signal-caller and came through with a brilliant performance.
“I knew we’d be alternating series but I did not want to come into the game under those circumstances,” Tyler said. “You have to give credit first to our offensive line for a great job and Pepper just runs so hard and never gives up until he’s down on the ground.”
Shamokin took its only lead of the game in the opening quarter when a bad snap from the center on fourth down gave the Indians possession on the Shikellamy 15. Quarterback Tucker Yost burrowed his way in for a one-yard touchdown.
The Braves received great field position following the ensuing kickoff when John Schaeffer returned the kick 43 yards. Pepper took but one carry to reach paydirt breaking several tackles and racing down the sideline for a 42-yard TD.
Following a short punt, Shikellamy grabbed the lead when Pepper again broke through the Shamokin defense and went right up the middle for a 78-yard touchdown jaunt.
“They were putting up as many people as possible in the box to stop the run and Pepper was able to break through the first line of defense,” Braves’ coach Todd Tilford said. “It’s great but if the runner breaks free he’s going to go a long way.”
Shamokin put together a six-play, 59-yard drive to force the game’s second tie. Draven Miller again provided the bulk of the yardage with 42 yards, including a 13-yard sweep around left end for the score.
“Shikellamy wasn’t going to give us much in the passing game so it was important that we ran the ball well,” Indians’ coach Dan Foor said. “I thought we ran the ball better than we have in quite awhile.”
The Braves answered quickly, moving downfield in five plays with Pepper collecting his third score of the half on a four-yard run to give the visitors a 21-14 advantage with 3:13 left in the half and Shikellamy got on the board one more time before the break when Tyler connected with Jean Turber for a 35-yard touchdown and 28-14 bulge.
It was the Braves who grabbed the momentum in the third quarter as Tyler threw a 35-yard touchdown strike to Scott Snyder and Pepper capped the scoring in the contest with a one-yard TD plunge.