Nesquers score in first period and cling to lead by great defense
Playing inspired ball from the opening kickoff, the Nesquehoning High School Maroons achieved a feat that no other team has been able to duplicate since early in 1948 they defeated the Coaldale Tigers, doing it by a score of 6 to 0 before some 4,500 fans at Nesquehoning Saturday afternoon.
In staging the biggest upset of the season, the Nesquers accomplished several important deeds: They knocked Coaldale from the leadership of the southern division, Eastern Conference; they handed Coach Andy Kalen his first defeat since he took over the reins at Coaldale in September, 1949; they stopped Coaldale’s unbeaten streak at 23 one of the longest on record among scholastic teams in the state.
The Nesquers scored on a weird pass play in the first period, then gallantly held back the Tigers for the remainder of the game. And the Nesquehoning and Coaldale fans both agreed that George Welsh’s receivers let the star Coaldale quarterback down badly, muffing several scoring opportunities.
Each Nesquehoning boy played a fine game, under the able leadership of their rugged fullback and captain, Teddy Drigan. The triumph was one of the greatest in Coach Tony Mezza’s career.
The Old Off-Side Play
The game was full of surprises and thrills. Nesquehoning pulled its first of very smart plays early in the first period, following several exchanges. With fourth down coming up and a yard to go for a first at midfield, they lined up for a running play. Then the entire line pulled out, yanking Coaldale’s line offside to give the Maroons a five-yard penalty gain and a first down.
The play was one of a number of fine plays executed during Nesquehoning’s first period touchdown march from its own 26. Ted Drigan ripped off several substantial gains through the line, Johnny Feddock and Bobby Coombe contributing a lot of yardage around the ends.
But the Tiger line held when the ball advanced to scoring territory. It was fourth down and 14 on the Coaldale 20 when the strangest play of the gamethe play that won the contestwas executed.
Feddock faded back to pass. He was being rushed, and spotted his right end, Bob Foster, on about the five-yard line. So he rifled a pass in Foster’s direction, but the lanky end was unable to catch it. He did make a desperate leap high in the air, and managed to tip the ball enough to cause it to sail crazily toward the goal line. A startled Nesquehoning quarterback, Joe Damiano, saw the pigskin sailing his way. He dove for the ball and caught it in the end zone. It was a touchdown, the only touchdown of the game. Damiano’s try for conversion was blocked. Nesquehoning led 6 to 0, and the score was to remain unchanged.
Drive 56 Yards
Coaldale came right back with a 56-yard drive that just missed a score. Eddie Shubeck ably carried the ball. George Welsh hit Ziggy Karpa with a long pass. And Welsh himself carried the ball for 12 yards to put the ball in scoring position.
Coaldale had a fourth down with four to go on Nesquehoning’s seven when the TD pass failed. Welsh sailed an aerial to George McCartney but the end was unable to make the difficult catch. The Nesquers pulled out of danger, whereupon Coaldale came right back to threaten again.
They marched from Nesquehoning’s 40 down to the 12 before a scoring threat. Welsh pitched a strike to McCartney, who took it on the dead run. Although he was only two or three steps from the goal line, he elected to lateral the ball to a teammate, as one Nesquehoning man was between him and the goal line. The lateral was wild, and when it finally stopped tumbling around, Nesquehoing was camped on the ball on its own 19.
Knock At Door Again
After Drigan kicked out of danger, Coaldale came on for a third time to knock on the door. Starting from the Nesquehoning 35, they moved swiftly down to the Nesquehoning two yard line on line plays.
Unable to gain through the line, Welsh hit Ronnie Richards with a perfect pass, only to see the young halfback drop the ball in the end zone. On the next pass play, Welsh was rushed by a determined Nesquehoning line, and had to hurry his toss. Bob Walls grabbed the pigskin in his own end zone, and set sail for the faraway Coaldale goal line. No one was in his way, and he had plenty of blockers. But just as he got to his own 35, he tripped and fell over one of his own blockers.
Before Nesquehoning could try a play from scrimmage, the half ended.
The Nesquers staged a ground-attack drive from their own 35 to Coaldale’s 35 after taking the kickoff, only to lose possession when Ziggy Karpa recovered Coombe’s fumble.
After an exchange of punts, it was Nesquehoning’s turn to threaten late in the third period. The entire forward wall rushed in on Posta as he attempted to punt for Coaldale, and the Nesquers had a first and ten on the Tiger 34. Seizing the opportunity, they struck swiftly. Drigan’s jump pass to Foster was good to the 20. Coombe made 6, and Drigan moved the ball to Coaldale’s 8. Then the husky fullback plowed down to the five as the quarter ended.
A line smash by Drigan gave Nesquehoning another yard, and Coombe added two more. But the Coaldale line was like a stone wall. It didn’t budge. On the last attempt to score, Coombe was thrown for a loss back to the five.
From this dangerous position, Welsh stole a page out of professional football’s book. He saw the Nesquehoning defense bunched in close, so he faded back into his own end zone and threw a pass to Bob Zebian who got to the 20. Another pass to Zebian advanced to the 35. Then another unusual play turned the tide in Nesquehoning’s favor.
Grab Bobbled Ball
Nesquehoning’s line was rushing Welsh now. They knew if they could keep that rifle arm off balance, they would win. Just as the quarterback was getting off a pass, he was hit, and the ball shot straight up in the air. Gene Skerchock was alert for Nesquehoning, and grabbed the loose ball before it hit the ground. So Nesquehoning had a first down on Coaldale’s 25.
They got to the 15 before they were held for downs. Just then the four-minute signal was given, and Nesquehoning settled down to play a safe, cautious game. They held Welsh in check as the Coaldale back again took to the air in desperation. Neither team approached scoring territory and when the whistle blew to end the game, Nesquehoning had possession on its own 35.
As the official tossed the ball into the air, the stands erupted with Nesquehoning fans and musicians. Weary gridiron gladiators were mauled and kissed. The band and fans were throwing hats, batons and sundry items into the air. In the dressing room, it was wide grins and congratulations, as Coach Tony Mezza and his gallant youngsters, who pulled two big upsets in as many weeks, accepted the fitting praise of their supporters.