Most have heard the old cliche that a team needs to play every minute of the game and many would agree that it’s true. The Saucon Valley Panthers rang up 28 first-half points against the Palmerton Blue Bombers on Friday night, but could not put any more points on the scoreboard the rest of the way. Saucon Valley’s 28-14 halftime lead evaporated during the 3rd Quarter and the Blue Bombers were able to topple the Panthers in the end by a 29-28 score.
Saucon Valley won the toss and deferred their option to the second half. The Panthers and Bombers traded possessions throughout most of the first quarter. Palmerton was finally able to capitalize on a 55-yard, 10 play drive that ended with a 15-yard Tekoah Guedes to Jordan Nelson touchdown pass . The PAT was good and the Blue Bombers took a 7-0 lead with 3:04 to play in the first quarter.
The Panther response was immediate. The play after Steven Rose brought the Bomber kickoff out to the 28 yardline, Alstan Wolfe pulled a play-action fake from the belly of Zach Petiet and found Rose on a deep crossing route. Wolfe’s pass was perfectly placed and Rose took it in stride to the house for a 72 yard score. Erik Sundlof’s extra-point was good and the Panthers evened the score 7-7 with 2:43 remaining in the 1st.
After both teams exchanged punts to end the first quarter, Palmerton marched for eleven plays and turned it over on downs back to the Panthers at Saucon’s 35 yardline. From a shotgun formation, Alstan Wolfe kept the ball on a keeper around the right end to the single tight end side. Wolfe read Christian “Mongo” Alling’s kickout block and went super-freaky on the way to the endzone for 65-yard Panther touchdown. Sundlof’s PAT missed its mark making the score 13-7 with 8:36 until halftime.
On their next series, the Panthers forced the Bombers into another three-and-out punt. Saucon took over at their own 35 yardline where “Lightning” was about to strike. In only five plays the Panthers would score another touchdown. The final two plays of the Panther drive covered 52 yards. Zach Petiet scampered off right tackle for 35 yards and then the remaining 17 up the gut into the endzone. The Bombers jumped offside on the PAT convincing Coach Sams to go for two. Alstan Wolfe did not disappoint as he kept on option-left into the endzone. With 7:06 left in the first half it appeared as if the Panthers were taking control of the game with a 21-7 lead.
The Blue Bombers, however, took the next possession 70 yards in ten plays to cut the Panther lead to 21-14 with 3:34 left. The Bomber drive was highlighted by a curious pass-interference penalty against the Panthers. The second such call of the game against Saucon Valley.
Saucon finished the first half strong by scoring another touchdown. It was a nine play drive that covered 72 yards. The Panther series was highlighted by a screen pass and quick pitch to Petiet. The pitch went for 23 yards and the score with only :41 seconds left in the half. Sundlof’s extra-point made it 28-14.
Saucon received the second-half kickoff and marched from their own 38 yardline down to the Blue Bomber 27. But, the drive stalled and the Panthers turned it over on downs. The very next play, on first down, Palmerton’s Guedes targeted Jordan Nelson on a deep fade pass. Nelson caught the ball in full stride for a 73 yard TD catch. The Bombers then successfully faked the PAT for the 2-point conversion. At the 8:34 mark of the third quarter Palmerton cut the Panther lead to 28-22.
On the Panthers next possession, the offense came up empty and was forced to punt. The Bombers, again, hurt the Panthers with another fade to Nelson on first down. Guedes’ throw and Nelson’s catch brought the Bombers out to midfield. Six plays later Guedes called his own number and plunged into the end-zone from six yards out for a TD. Nelson’s PAT kick was good and the Bombers took the lead 29-28 with 2:20 remaining in the 3rd. It was the last points of the game.
Saucon Valley put up very good rushing numbers with Petiet carrying 20 times for 107 yards and two touchdowns. Wolfe was also spectacular carrying 18 times for 135 yards and a score. The Panthers passing attack could have been better with Wolfe completing only six of fourteen attempts for 137 yards. Wolfe did hit the long ball to Steven Rose for the 72 yard touchdown, but the Bombers also came up with two interceptions.
Much like last year when Saucon needed to overcome a mid-season loss to the Northwestern Lehigh Tigers, the Panthers will have to put this one behind them and refocus on the next opponent. The Catasauqua Rough Riders are next, and the Panthers need to prepare for them. In the world of sports, a win, of course, is the best remedy for a disheartening loss.
Good luck Panthers, the Source is with you!