NEPA Sports Nation

DePalma returns, teams with Orta to lead Carbondale to road victory

By Tom Robinson,

TUNKHANNOCK – Vincent DePalma knows he will never get back the more than one-quarter of the regular season he lost at the beginning of his senior year of football at Carbondale.

DePalma, however, did his best to make up for lost time when he returned to the Chargers lineup Friday night.

The running back, inside linebacker and kick returner was part of just about everything Carbondale did in a come-from-behind, 29-22, non-league victory at Tunkhannock.

“I was just appreciative because you don’t get this time back,” said DePalma, who was ejected in the first half of the season opener and lost an attempt to get a two-game suspension, levied by game officials and the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association, reversed through the court system. “It’s my senior year, I only have (six) more games and the postseason.

“I’ll never get this feeling again, coming out here with my family. ‘Appreciative’ is the word.”

DePalma scored 14 of Carbondale’s 15 fourth-quarter points and provided an interception with a minute remaining to clinch the victory.

His presence was at its most visible in the game’s final three minutes, after Tunkhannock took the lead, but Carbondale coach Jeff Arthur noticed the team captain’s impact before the Chargers ever got to game night.

“Vinny DePalma is the heartbeat of this organization; he’s the heartbeat of this family,” Arthur said. “I watched the kids all week feed off the fact that they knew he was back with them and they knew he was going to play.                             

“ … It all starts with our leader. He made practices intense this week, but there are some other kids on this football team like Johnny Orta, Malachi DeBerry and Darryl Bennett that really stepped up for us tonight.”

When DePalma, a 1,000-yard rusher and two-way, first-team division all-star last season as a junior, was removed from the Carbondale lineup, Jonathan Orta, a former wide receiver took over as the primary ballcarrier.

Friday night, Orta and DePalma worked together.

Orta carried 21 times for 131 yards and 2 first-half touchdowns, breaking ties to put Carbondale ahead, 7-0, in the first quarter and, 14-7, with 1:18 left in the half. DePalma carried 22 times for 97 yards and 2 touchdowns in the final 8:32, breaking a 14-14 tie, then erasing a 22-21 deficit.

They combined to provide the answers after Tunkhannock had seized the lead and appeared to have the momentum to go with it after a 10-play, 74-yard scoring drive.

Ben Chilson went 5-for-6 for 73 yards on the drive, including rolling right to hit Jeremy Ransom in the end zone with a 4-yard touchdown pass on fourth-and-goal. Chilson then threw a quick pass over the middle to Garret Yuhas for the go-ahead, two-pointer.

“There are a lot of teams here the last few years who would have folded when they went down 22-21 late in the game, but not this team,” Arthur said. “They are playing with some heart right now.

“And, it’s awfully nice to have No. 18 back.”

Orta took a lateral swing pass 15 yards on the first play to start the winning drive.

DePalma then caught a 13-yard pass for the second of three straight first downs.

The big play came when Orta took a draw up the middle and went 43 yards, all the way to the Tunkhannock 2.

“I knew I had to lead while he was gone,” Orta said. “I’m glad that he’s back.”

Carbondale let as much time as possible run off the clock before calling timeout.

Tunkhannock appeared to essentially let DePalma into the end zone on the 2-yard touchdown, rather than try to dodge a short touchdown run for three downs and a likely fourth-down field goal if that had succeeded.

The touchdown gave the Chargers a five-point lead, making the conversion important and DePalma caught that for a seven-point advantage with 1:19 left.

Tunkhannock returned the kickoff to the 35, but DePalma stopped the threat on the first play. He intercepted and returned the ball 28 yards to the Tigers 13, setting up the Chargers to kill exactly one minute off the clock for the win.

DePalma’s contributions covered all parts of the game, all throughout the game.

In addition to his rushing and scoring, DePalma also had 2 catches for 14 yards. He was the Chargers leader on defense with a 14-yard sack, five total tackles, three assists, a pass rush, a broken-up pass in the end zone and the interception. In his only special teams return, DePalma brought a punt back 49 yards.

Linebacker Ethen Brewen and end Chaz Kovaleski also were a big part of the Carbondale defense.

Brewen had four tackles, six assists and a pass break-up. Kovaleski, had five tackles, including one for a loss, and an assist.

Yuhas had a strong all-around game for Tunkhannock. He caught 6 passes for 118 yards; ran for a touchdown; led the Tigers defense with 7 tackles, 4 assists and an interception; and returned 2 kickoffs for 34 yards.

Chilson was 16-for-28 for 239 yards passing and 2 touchdowns.

Orta’s 19-yard touchdown run with 5:13 left in the first capped Carbondale’s 55-yard scoring drive on its first possession.

Tunkhannock took over at the Carbondale 34 after a short punt late in the first quarter and scored early in the second.

Colin Madan, who also had six receptions, caught a pass in the right flat, kept going and stretched the ball into the end zone for a 22-yard touchdown.

Bennett and DeBarry connected for 49 yards to set up Orta’s 3-yard touchdown for a 14-7 halftime lad.

Tunkhannock’s Bobby Schultz blocked a field goal attempt and Jeb Stephens covered the loose ball to keep Carbondale from adding to its lead on the first possession of the second half.

The Tigers then moved 78 yards in 14 plays. Chilson went 5-for-7 for 69 yards before Yuhas ran it in from the 2.

Carbondale took its third lead with a 94-yard scoring drive that carried from the third quarter into the fourth.

Bennett hit DePalma for 19 yards on third-and-five, Orta found DeBarry behind the defense for 35 yards on a halfback option pass and Orta made defenders miss tackles on a 25-yard screen pass from Bennett on third-and-12.

DePalma took care of it from there with a 5-yard run, then a 2-yard touchdown on the next play.

Carbondale improved to 2-2 while Tunkhannock fell to 1-3.

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