The Panthers took the field on Friday night looking to bounce back from last week’s homecoming heartbreaker at the hands of the Southern Lehigh Spartans. Saucon had to rally and get back on track to defend its home turf against the Northwestern Lehigh Tigers. The Panthers pounced on the Tigers from the very start building a 21-0 first quarter advantage. Saucon doubled-down in the second with an additional 21 points. The Panthers started red-hot and never looked back to finish the night with a sweet 49-21 mercy-rule victory.
Northwestern Lehigh won the coin toss allowing the Panthers to receive the game’s opening kickoff. Alstan Wolfe immediately aroused the crowd returning the kick 80 yards deep into Tiger territory. Four plays later Ian Csicsek took the plunge for the first Saucon score of the night. Erik Sundlof connected on the first of his seven PAT’s and the Panthers, a little over a minute into the game, took a 7-0 lead.
Two plays after the Saucon kickoff, the Panthers pounced again. From his linebacker position, Curtis Clifford ripped the ball away from the Tiger running back. Patrick Morrissey scooped the fumble and put the Panther offense back in business. Three plays later on a quarterback keeper, Wolfe got the edge and punched the pigskin in for another Saucon Valley touchdown. At the 7:46 mark of the first quarter Saucon improved to 14-0 advantage.
After the Panther defense swarmed the Tiger offense to force a three-and-out punt, Saucon marched back down the field with a dominating drive that ended with an Ian Csicsek 5-yard touchdown run. Sundlof’s kick made it 21-0 with 3:37 left in the 1st Quarter.
The Tigers tried to respond putting together a drive that stalled at Saucon Valley’s 36-yard line. After regaining possession the Panthers wasted little time scoring again. On the fifth play of the drive Alstan Wolfe zigged, zagged, pounded, bounced and raced his way into the endzone. Erik Sundlof capped the drive with his PAT, and at 10:27 remaining in the Half, the Panthers led 28-0.
At the 6:01 mark of the 1st Half the tide seemed to change. Northwestern Lehigh found their way onto the scoreboard with a touchdown pass from Deven Bollinger to Ryan Haas to claw back to 28-7. Following the Tiger score, the Tigers caught the Panthers by surprise with an onside kick. However, Northwestern’s offense again stalled and the Tigers were forced to turn the ball over on downs at the Saucon 15-yard line. Two plays later from the shotgun, Wolfe faked to Csicsek and started patiently to his right with the football. Then, on a dime, he quickly planted his foot, abruptly squared up, and sprinted 73-yards upfield for another of his trademark, super-freaky touchdown runs. Sundlof did his job making the score 35-7 with 5:00 minutes to go in the 1st half.
Oh yes, Wolfe can play defense, too. Any thoughts the Tigers may have had about answering were dashed when Wolfe undercut a deep Tiger “out” route for an interception directly in front of the Tiger bench at the Panther 45-yard line. On the fifth play of the Panther drive, Wolfe read keep on option and dodged his way past six Tigers before winning the race into the end zone against the other five. It was another remarkable run for Wolfe. Sundlof’s kick put the Panthers up by 35 points putting the mercy-rule into effect. The score was 42-7 at the halftime break.
The Tigers took the 2nd Half kickoff all the way to the Panther 35-yardline and eventually hit paydirt a little more than two minutes later to make it a 42-14 game. Saucon Valley, however, answered with a methodical drive that ended when Wolfe found Curtis Clifford open in the end zone for a five yard touchdown catch. Erik Sundlof’s seventh PAT of the night was good and the Panthers were up 49-14 with 3:41 left in the 3rd Quarter.
Northwestern Lehigh added a late score with 4:44 left in the game when starting quarterback Deven Bollinger connected with Jayden Allen for a 15-yard TD pass and catch. The Tiger touchdown would close out all scoring making it 49-21 final.
It was a big game for Saucon Valley to get them back on the winning track. The Panthers rushing attack, even without injured superstar Zach Petiet, looked strong with the Hogs opening some very big holes for Wolfe, Csicsek and company. Patrick Morrissey along with Curtis Clifford proved to be reliable pass catching options with Steven Rose sidelined. Defensively, the Panthers rallied to the ball and contained an athletic Tiger offense with some talented playmakers. Saucon Valley stepped-up and is moving forward.
UP NEXT: Saucon Valley (4-2) will pack the buses and travel up to Northern Lehigh (0-6) for a battle with the Bulldogs in another Friday night football fight. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.
Good luck Panthers, the Source is with you!
Additional Game Photos by Chris Christian: