Saucon Valley hit the Northern Lehigh Bulldogs early and often on their way to a dominant 54-6 mercy-rule victory on Friday night at Slatington. With the win, the Panthers improved to a 5-2 record and keep their hopes for post-season play alive.
The Panthers started the game on defense and quickly forced a three-and-out punt by Northern Lehigh. Immediately after Alstan Wofe’s 18-yard punt return, the dual-threat dynamo dropped back to pass and found Ryan Holub in space on a corner route at the Bulldog 10 yardline. Holub made the catch and walked in for the score. Saucon kicker Eric Sundlof connected on the PAT to put the Panthers on the scoreboard. Less than two minutes into the game the Panthers led 7-0.
Helped by Patrick Zuber’s sack of the Bulldog quarterback on first down, the Saucon Valley defense created another three-and-out. A Panther penalty on the punt return backed Saucon up to their own 8 yardline where the offense started a 12-play drive that ended with an Alstan Wolfe 1-yard quarterback sneak for a touchdown. Sundlof’s extra-point kick was good and the Panthers found themselves with a 14-0 lead with 1:53 left in the opening period.
After another three-and-out punt by the Bulldogs, Saucon Valley took possession with a short field at the Northern Lehigh 36 yard line. Six plays later Wolfe, off a play-action fake to Zach Petiet, threw a strike to tight end Patrick Morrissey on a crossing route in the endzone. Morrissey overcame a jarring collision to hold on for a Panther 15-yard touchdown catch. The PAT kick missed its mark, but nonetheless Saucon built a commanding 20-0 advantage with 9:33 left to play in the first half.
Midway through the second quarter, the stingy Saucon Valley defense still wasn’t feeling very charitable toward Northern Lehigh. The Panther defense held, once again, without giving up a first-down to the Bulldogs. The Saucon offense regained possession just inside the midfield stripe and went to work. Eight plays later, Wolfe read “keep” on a “veer-option” and raced into the endzone for 12-yard touchdown score. The Panthers were good on their two-point PAT and led 28-0 with 4:23 remaining in the second quarter.
It looked like it would be another three-and-out by the Panther defense, but the Bulldogs were awarded their first, 1st-down of the game due to a roughing-the-punter penalty. Northern Lehigh did move the chains again, but Panther linebacker, Angelo Mahaffey, intercepted a Northern Lehigh pass to end the Bulldog threat.
The Panthers ran out of time to bank any more first-half points, but did take a dominant 28-0 halftime lead into the locker-room at intermission.
Saucon Valley started the second half giving up possession on a fumble after a couple plays at the Bulldog 45 yard line. However, the Panther defense held forcing Northern Lehigh to try and convert on a 4th & 4 from midfield. The Bulldogs went all-in calling a play-action pass hoping to surprise the Panthers. Alstan Wolfe was not fooled and picked-off the long pass at his own 28 yard line. Wolfe flicked his super-freak switch and zig-zagged his way into the end zone with yet another spectacular display of athleticism. The PAT hit the goalpost and missed. Saucon Valley led 34-0 about four minutes into the third quarter.
With the Panthers starting to rotate their personnel, Northern Lehigh finally got on the scoreboard with a TD, but missed their PAT. At the 4:55 mark of the 3rd quarter, the score was 34-6 in favor of the Panthers.
“Lightning” struck on the ensuing kickoff when Zach Petiet fielded the ball at his own 18 yard line and, showing a little patience and a big burst of speed, outran the Bulldog coverage to paydirt. Anthony Kittelstad connected on the PAT kick to start the mercy-rule clock. With 4:43 to go in the 3rd quarter, Saucon led 41-6.
The Panther defense held the Bulldogs out of the end zone for the duration of the game while the offense picked up a couple more scores. Ian Csicsek found his way through the Bulldog defense from 18 yards out and CJ Stump scored on a late quarterback sneak. Kittelstad added his second PAT of the night following Csicsek’s score, but his pass completion, after a muffed snap, came up short following Stump’s 2-yard plunge.
All said and done, the Panthers improved to 5-2 with a 54-6 mercy-rule thrashing of the Northern Lehigh Bulldogs.
UP NEXT: Saucon Valley (5-2) will travel to face the Wilson Warriors in a Saturday afternoon matinee. Kickoff is at 1:30 p.m.
Good luck Panthers, the Source is with you!