ATKINS — The Pottsville Apaches beat the Red Devils 14-6 for the first time in history before a packed Lemley Field crowd Friday night.
“This does not start tonight at 7 p.m. This started back in January, and you have worked and worked and worked. Now is the fun part,” Pottsville (1-0) coach Bryan Rust told his team before the game’s opening kickoff.
The evidence of the Apaches hard work was evident as they ran 74 offensive plays compared to 51 plays for the Red Devils (0-1). Pottsville overpowered Atkins and used long drives to keep the Red Devils’ speed at bay to grind out a victory.
The first quarter looked like a heavyweight fight as both teams were able to drive the ball, but neither could capitalize on field position or opponent’s mistakes. The Apaches scored on their first possession of the second quarter when Tyler Robertson broke through the pile on the left side for a 23-yard touchdown run with 8:54 left in the half. He also barreled up the middle for the conversion, giving Pottsville their first lead of the game at 8-0.
Atkins was not going to be outdone and roared back when D.J. Glover scored on a second and 8 yards to go from the 28. The 2-point conversion attempt was stopped a foot short. The score remained 8-0 until halftime.
Pottsville began to flex its muscles in the third quarter and kept the ball away from the Red Devils by grinding out 23 plays and holding Atkins to just eight plays on offense. Apache Corey Taylor capped an 8-play drive that covered 59 yards. Taylor and Robertson combined for all the yardage on the drive, while Taylor finished it on a 16-yard scamper around the right side. That touchdown proved to be the final blow as the Pottsville ran the ball — and the clock — the rest of the second half.
Atkins’ last attempt at a drive was stopped after 67 yards when John Campbell intercepted a Red Devil pass at the Pottsville 21.
The Apaches dominated the ground game by piling up 292 yards rushing. Robertson led the way with 148 yards. Quarterback Derek Clark added 59, Jay Wright had 41 and Corey Taylor and Brandon Long chipped in with 10 and 34.
“It was a great game,” Rust said after the game. “It’s a big win for these kids, the school and the community. I am so proud of how these guys have worked. We have a chance to be pretty good, if we will continue to work hard.”
The Apaches have their home opener at 7 p.m. next week against Lamar at John Needham Stadium. Atkins will host the Dover Pirates in the annual Rivals Cup game at Lemley Field.