On Friday night, the Saucon Valley Panthers hit the road for a Colonial League matchup with the Palmerton Blue Bombers. Both teams entered the contest with 1-1 records and, for sure, both teams were looking to climb the standings by securing their second win. The Panthers rebounded with a win against Pen Argyl after a crushing loss to Southern Lehigh. Palmerton won against Palisades opening night and fell to Southern Lehigh last week. This Friday night in September was a great night for football.
Palmerton won the coin-toss and chose to receive. Saucon Valley kicked-off and the Blue Bombers wasted little time taking off. Palmerton put together a five play drive for an early touchdown. On 3rd & 3 from the Panther 35-yardline the Bombers hit a jet-sweep around the left end for the score. Palmerton opted for the two-point PAT, but they were unsuccessful. A little over two minutes into the game the Panthers trailed 6-0.
The Panthers, however, roared right back with a punishing ground attack. Using nine straight runs, the Panthers grinded their way toward paydirt. On 2nd & goal from the 3-yardline, sophomore stud, Damian Garcia found the end zone. Zach Nicholas’ point-after was good. The Panthers took the lead. The score was 7-6 with 5:50 left to play in the first quarter.
Palmerton was quick to answer with a productive, ten play drive. The Bombers drove the field and struck with a one yard TD run. This time, their two-point conversion was good. Palmerton was back on top 14-7 with 1:33 to go in the opening quarter.
After Saucon Valley freshman Tyler Pfizenmayer returned Palmerton’s short kickoff out to the 36-yardline, the Panthers continued to pound the ball with a couple of runs by Chris Mann and Damian Garcia. Then, on 2nd & 3 from the Bomber 46-yardline, quarterback Dante Mahaffey kept on an option play to the left and tightroped the sideline into the end zone. Zach Nicholas was good on the PAT and the Panthers closed out the 1st quarter of play with a 14-7 lead.
Palmerton was back in business and moving the ball against the Saucon Valley defense. On a drive that started at their own 25-yardline, the Bombers were able to advance all the way to the Panther 35-yardline in only four plays. Palmerton tried another jet-sweep around the right end. But, after a 10-yard gain, Dante Mahaffey from his cornerback position was able to strip the ball away from the Bomber running back at the Panther 25-yardline. Mahaffey’s Panther teammate, Chris Orlemann, scooped the fumble and returned the ball the other way back to the Panther 42-yardline. Saucon took full advantage of the takeaway and went on a 12-play drive that for another touchdown. The drive included two fourth down conversions and finished with junior fullback Chris Mann powering up the gut for a 9-yard blast. Nicholas connected on the PAT and Saucon Valley took a 21-14 lead with 2:44 remaining in the 1st half.
With little time remaining, Palmerton was able to move across midfield into Panther territory, but their last-ditch, desperation pass was picked off by Saucon Valley’s Damian Garcia. Garcia was able to return the interception all the way back to the Palmerton 18-yardline, however time had expired. Both teams went into the halftime break with the Panthers leading the Bombers 21-14.
Saucon Valley returned the opening, second half kickoff to their 42-yardline to start the second half with favorable field position. The Panthers were able to move the ball and get a first down, but the drive stalled and Saucon was forced to punt from the Palmerton 43-yardline. Freshman punter Alex Magnotta hit a sweet kick that rolled down to the 3-yardline to put the Bombers in a hole.
Palmerton was able to fight off their back and advance out to their own 43-yardline. However, when faced with a 3rd & 4 the Bomber pass attempt deflected into the waiting arms of Dante Mahaffey at the Panther 48-yardline. Mahaffey tried to bounce to the outside for a big interception return but was caught. Nonetheless, Mahaffey and the Saucon Valley defense earned another key takeaway that impacted the game.
The Saucon Valley offense took the field and masterfully engineered a late-game drive to seal the victory. In ten plays that included another 4th down conversion, the Panthers methodically bled the clock and marched 46-yards to paydirt. The scoring drive ended when Damian Garcia followed his wall of blockers into the end zone for a 3-yard touchdown run. Nicholas’ kick was good for the point-after and Saucon held 28-14 lead with 9:04 remaining in the game.
The Panther defense smelling a victory stiffened and held the Bombers to a 3-and-out-punt. The Saucon Valley offense went back to work from their own 33-yardline and manufactured another late drive that included a Chris Mann 35-yard run. After nine plays the Panthers found the end zone again. This time, with about two minutes left on the clock Ramel “Rah-Rah” Moore, with a little help from his friends, pushed his way in for a 4-yard score. Zach Nicholas kicked his fifth consecutive PAT of the night and the Panthers improved to a 2-1 record with the 35-14 win over the Palmerton Blue Bombers.
Panther Flash Stats:
- The Panthers rushed 47 times for 313 yards.
- Sophomore Damian Garcia (2 TD’s) led the Panthers with 110 yards on 21 carries.
- Junior fullback Chris Mann scored a TD and rumbled for 90 yards on 10 carries.
- Sophomore Dante Mahaffey ran 5 times for 67 yards and a TD.
- The Panther defense had 3 takeaways and shut out the Bombers in the second half.
- After fumbling 10 times in two games and losing six of them. The Panthers had no turnovers against Palmerton.
- Freshman linebacker Tyler Pfizenmayer led the Panther defense with 9 tackles. He has 32 tackles so far for the season.
Up Next: Saucon Valley (2-1) will host Salisbury (2-1) for a THURSDAY night special in a key Colonial League contest. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.
Good luck Panthers, the Source is with you!
All photos by Chris Christian. To see more photos please scroll down and visit his website, where you can purchase these and other high school sports photos.