THROOP — Sophomore quarterback Nathan Rolka and senior wide receiver Matt Bergey spent the offseason working on their timing.
It was evident as the duo connected for two touchdowns during Lackawanna Trail’s 26-14 win over Mid Valley in a Lackawanna Football Conference Division 3 game on Aug. 26.
Rolka completed 11 of 14 passes for 203 yards and Bergey hauled in four catches for 124 yards.
“In the summer, we would always run our routes after lifting,” Rolka said. “During 7-on-7 (drills), I think we really developed a connection. I like throwing to Matt a lot, he’s a big kid, he’s fast and he has good hands. He’s one of the biggest playmakers out there for us.”
From the start of the game, it looked like Mid Valley’s Zach Fiume was going to dominate play. The senior fullback returned the opening kickoff 25 yards, then carried the ball 10 times for 34 yards, including a 3-yard touchdown run, during a 17-play drive to give the Spartans a 6-0 lead with 2:18 left in the first quarter.
Lackawanna Trail’s offense made sure the team would keep pace.
Fullback Thomas Huffsmith took a screen pass from Rolka and ran 26 yards for a touchdown on the Lions first possession to tie the game with 10:16 remaining in the second quarter.
“I think coming back and being able to score on our next drive was big,” Lackawanna Trail head coach Steve Jervis said. “I think it says a lot about our kids and their character.”
After Trail’s defense held Mid Valley to three yards during the Spartans next possession, forcing a punt, Bergey caught a pass from Rolka and made a cut toward the middle of the field to score a 42-yard touchdown. Wingback Anthony Berrios ran in the two-point conversion to give the Lions a 14-6 advantage with 6:29 left in the second quarter.
Fiume, who rushed for 90 yards on 18 carries, scored his second touchdown of the game on a 2-yard run with 4:09 remaining in the first half. He also ran in the two-point conversion to knot the score, 14-14.
Trail regained the lead on the first drive of the second half when Tyler Baltrusaitis scored on a 3-yard run. The touchdown was set up by a punishing, 27-yard run from Huffsmith, who gained 89 of his 98 yards in the second half, and an 11-yard gain from Berrios.
“I thought all of our backs ran the ball really hard,” Jervis said. “(Huffsmith) got some tough yards for us when we really needed them.”
The Lions struck again when Rolka hooked up with Bergey for a 19-yard touchdown to cap an 11-play, 89-yard drive with 11:50 left in the game.
“I’m so proud to see how far he’s come along since he came into the program as a freshman,” Jervis said of Bergey. “He works very hard and was one of the differences in the game for us tonight.”
Lackawanna Trail’s defense held Mid Valley to 42 yards of offense in the second half with 26 coming on one drive.
“Our defensive coaches do a great job preparing our kids,” Jervis said. “They made some great adjustments at halftime, but ultimately our kids kept playing hard for 48 minutes. It was hot tonight and being able to fight through the heat and humidity says a lot about our kids toughness.”
Reach Robert Tomkavage at 570-704-3941 or on Twitter @rtomkavage.