FOUNTAIN SPRINGS — In an evenly matched football game, big plays can certainly have an impact on the outcome.

A long run, a trick play, a key turnover, or deep pass can mean the difference between winning and losing.

On Friday night, against Schuylkill League Football Division 1 foe North Schuylkill, Lehighton cashed in on two monster plays in the second half that helped it escape with a 22-14 victory.

Earlier in the week, Indians’ head coach Tom McCarroll noted that big plays probably weren’t going to come easy in this one, and that whoever came up with those big plays would have a good chance at coming away with the win. He was exactly right as the Tribe scored on plays of 74 yards and 62 yards in the third and fourth quarters, which gave them enough cushion and momentum to post the “W.”

“We had an idea coming in that we could do some things that we thought would work for big plays,” said McCarroll. “We actually missed some of those opportunities in the first half. I think we were a little excited and jacked up

“But give credit to our kids. They adjusted in the second half, settled down and made some big plays that ended up being the difference in the game.”

North Schuylkill used a Zack Chowansky two-yard TD plunge to take a 6-0 lead early in the second quarter.

The Indians responded when TaQuan Bradley-Chambers took the ensuing kickoff 48 yards to the Spartans 41, setting them up with good field position for the first time on the night. Five plays later, quarterback Cody Scherer threw a nice backside fade to Zack Crum for a 25-yard touchdown strike. After a successful two-point conversion the Indians took an 8-6 lead, which they would carry into intermission.

At the six-minute mark in the third quarter, Lehighton added another big play when Scherer carried the ball right sideline and out ran everybody, going 74 yards for the score to make it 14-6.

“I got hit when I got to the sideline, but I kept my feet and I kept my legs and knees pumping, said Scherer. “I was able to make a big play, I’m just really proud of all our guys tonight. We kept our heads, and we kept battling. Our coaches did a great job of preparing us.”

Lehighton extended its lead with a little over seven minutes remaining in the fourth quarter and once again it was Scherer doing the damage. The Indians quarterback rolled right on fourth-and-13 and again connected with Crum, who slipped behind the Spartans defense and made the grab, completing the 62-yard pitch and catch to make it 22-6.

North Schuylkill would not go away however, as they battled back, scoring with four minutes left in the game on a 24-yard connection between quarterback Doug Weist and Jaden Leiby, making it a one-possession game.

Then things really got interesting.

The Spartans forced Lehighton to punt on its next possession and they proceeded to drive 80 yards from their own 15 down to the Lehighton five-yard line with under a minute remaining, but a bad snap, which flew over Weist’s head pushed them back to the 15. They weren’t able to get anything going from that point on, turning the ball over on downs.

“It was kind-of a bend, but don’t break defense for us at the end there,” said McCarroll. “We obviously need to clean some things up with that, but our kids hung in there when they needed to.

“Tonight, we proved we could play a tough, hard-nosed game for four quarters, I never doubted we could do it, but I think we showed some other people, we can play that brand of football.”

FIRST DOWN FRENZY … Both teams chewed up the clock and some yards. The Spartans collected 19 first downs while Lehighton had 15.

CLAMPING DOWN … After North Schuylkill controlled the ground game in the first half, the Indians shut them down in that department in the second half, forcing the Spartans to punt three times and turn it over on downs once.