Saucon Valley entered Saturday night’s District XI 4A quarterfinal against Lehighton as the #2 seed. The Panthers (8-2) were a heavy favorite against the Indians (4-6). The contest was tight early, but as the game unfolded the Panthers pulled away for a 56-26 victory.
It was a great start for the Panther defense as they forced the Indians to punt after only three plays. The Saucon Valley offense took possession at their own 40-yardline and found the end zone only five plays later when Christian “Mongo” Alling powered up the gut for a 23-yard touchdown run. The PAT missed its mark, but a little over three minutes into the game the Panthers led 6-0.
Lehighton answered for a touchdown with a nine play drive that ended with a 28-yard touchdown pass from Chris Whiteman to Zach Hunsicker. The Indians missed on their extra-point and with 4:56 remaining in the first quarter of play the scoreboard read 6-6.
Saucon Valley responded with a touchdown with just under two minutes remaining in the opening quarter. Set up by a 4th-down conversion near midfield on a completed pass between Dante Mahaffey and Ty Csencsits, Mahaffey kept on option two plays later for a 19-yard score. The Panthers elected to go for a two-point try and were successful when Ian Csicsek took a toss and crossed the goalline around the right end. With just under two minutes left in the opening quarter it was a 14-6 Panther lead.
It looked like a shootout was unfolding as Lehighton marched right back for another score in the early part of the 2nd quarter. The Indians used eleven plays to secure a touchdown pass from Jayvon McDowell to Chris Whiteman. Lehighton’s two-point try was unsuccessful giving the Panthers a 14-12 advantage with 9:21 left to play in the 1st half.
The Saucon Valley offense went right back to work and engineered a 73-yard drive for another score. Highlighted by a little Mahaffey, a little Mongo, a little Morrissey and a little Csicsek, the Panthers once again found the end zone when Ian “Sizzler” Csicsek, behind the Hogs, pounded the ball in for the score from 4-yards away. Sean Cyphers’ kick was good and with 6:09 left in the 1st half the scoreboard read 21-12 in favor of Saucon Valley.
The two teams would trade possessions and with just under one minute left to play in the 1st half Saucon Valley’s Ryan Holub intercepted the Indians near midfield and returned the ball down to the Indian 27-yardline. Then, on 4th & 6 from the 23-yardline, Mahaffey placed a perfect pass to Ian Csicsek in the back of the end zone. Csicsek was able to get a foot down in bounds for the touchdown. Cyphers’ PAT was blocked, but the Indians were ruled offside. The Panthers elected to go for two and were rewarded when Csicsek reached across the goalline from one yard away. Saucon Valley took a 29-12 lead into the locker room at the break.
The Panthers received the second half kickoff and immediately picked up where they left off. Less than two minutes into the 3rd quarter, Saucon Valley’s Dane Csencsits hit paydirt with a 10-yard touchdown run. Cyphers hit the target and the Panthers extended their lead to 36-12.
The Saucon Valley defense went bend but don’t break and stiffened with a goalline stand against the Indians who could not convert with four tries inside the Panther 10-yardline. Saucon took over possession at their own 6-yardline and covered 94 yards in 13 plays for another touchdown. Dante Mahaffey called his own number and hit a quarterback sneak for the score. Cyphers’ PAT was good and at the end of the 3rd quarter, the Panthers were on top 43-12.
Showing a whole lot of tribe-pride, the Indians kept fighting and drove the field. Courtesy of Aiden Renninger’s extra-effort, the Panthers forced a fourth-and-goal situation at the 4-yardline. Lehighton quarterback, Chris Whiteman rolled to his right and found Zach Crum back to left for a score. The PAT was good to make the score 43-19 with just under nine minutes left to play.
With the reserves taking over, the scoring still continued. Saucon’s Damian Garcia would carry for two touchdowns including a 73-yard blast up the gut that energized the hometown crowd. Lehighton also added a touchdown score. All said and done, the Saucon Valley Panthers advanced to the District XI semifinals with a 56-26 victory over the Lehighton Indians.
Panther Flash Stats!…..
- Csicsek carried 26 times for 215 yards and had 2 TD’s. He has 2,469 on the season (2nd all-time for SV).
- Dante Mahaffey completed 6 of 8 passes for 95 yards and a touchdown. Mahaffey ran for 2 other TD’s.
- Patrick Morrissey had 4 catches for 60 yards.
- Damian Garcia ran for 126 yards on only eight carries. Garcia rushed for 2 TD’s.
- The Panthers had 32 first downs and 577 yards of total offense.
Up Next: SATURDAY night Saucon Valley (9-2) will, once again, host the Northwestern Lehigh Tigers (9-2). This time the two teams will meet in the District XI championship semifinal. It will be another great challenge for the Panthers. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.
Good luck Panthers, the Source is with you!
Note: Photos by Chris Christian.