Nathan Rolka is a sophomore.
He sure didn’t look like one Friday night, though.
The Lackawanna Trail quarterback authored a nearly flawless performance against Mid Valley, completing all but three of his 15 pass attempts for 208 yards and three touchdowns, as the opportunistic Lions beat Mid Valley, 26-14, in a season-opening Lackawanna Football Conference Division III game at Spartan Stadium.
“We expected to come down here and play hard,” Rolka said. “Mid Valley is great, a good team that is big up front. We knew it was going to be a tough battle.”
After the Spartans opened the game with a bruising 17-play, 55-yard drive that resulted in Zach Fiume’s 3-yard touchdown run, the Lions knew they had to answer.
For a while, however, it just didn’t appear as if they would.
Facing a third-and-21 from the Mid Valley 26, Rolka calmly found fullback Thomas Huffsmith wide open on a screen pass to tie the game, 6-6.
On the Lions’ next drive, Rolka then found senior Matt Bergey open for a 41-yard touchdown strike, but Fiume’s second touchdown of the game tied it for Mid Valley going into halftime.
While the Lions defense held Mid Valley to just 52 yards and two first downs in the second half, Rolka didn’t stop completing big throws.
After senior Tyler Baltrusaitis’ 3-yard run broke the tie at the 7:38 mark in the third quarter, Rolka hooked up with Bergey — who finished with 123 receiving yards — again, for a 19-yard touchdown on 2nd and goal.
“For a sophomore,” Huffsmith said of Rolka, “he plays like a senior. He plays with all the heart he has.”
That heart was certainly seen in the big moments, as Trail averaged 10.2 yards per play on third and fourth downs for the game.
Rolka finished with 208 passing yards to go along with his three touchdown passes, while Huffsmith led the way on the ground with 91 yards.
Lackawanna Trail 26, Mid Valley 14
LT 0 14 6 6 — 26
MV 6 8 0 0 — 14
MV - Fiume 3 run (kick missed, 2:18.
LT - Huffsmith 26 pass from Rolka (kick missed), 10:16.
LT - Bergey 41 pass from Rolka (Berrios run), 6:29.
MV - Fiume 2 run (Fiume run), 4:09.
LT - Baltrusaitis 3 run (kick missed), 7:38.
LT - Bergey 19 pass from Rolka (kick missed), 4:50.
First Downs 14 9
Rush-Att-Yards 32-127 30-163
Comp-Att-Int 12-15-0 3-9-1
Passing Yards 208 13
Total Yards 335 176
Punts-Average 2-32 3-33
Fumbles-Lost 0-0 0-0
Penalties-Yards 9-67 2-25
Rushing: LT - T. Huffsmith 11-91; J. Gillespie 10-32; A. Berrios 4-15; J. Edwards 2-4; N. Rolka 1-3; T. Baltrusaitis 2-1, 1 TD; Team 2-(-19). MV - Z. Fiume 15-90, 2 TDs; C. Munley 11-52; B. Wallo 3-22; J. Chylak 1-(-1).
Passing: LT - N. Rolka 12-15-0, 208, 3 TDs. MV - C. Munley 2-5-0, 7; B. Wallo 1-4-1, 6.
Receiving: LT - M. Bergey 4-123, 2 TDs; T. Baltrusaitis 3-26; T. Huffsmith 3-46, 1 TD; J. Gillespie 2-13. MV - Z. Fiume 1-1; J. Chylak 1-6; Z. Rebar 1-6.