In the opening minutes of Palmerton's game against Pen Argyl Saturday afternoon, it became quite apparent that a classic showdown between Blue Bomber quarterback Joe Weber and Pen Argyl running back Dylan Evans could have easily been the highlight of the entire game.
After all, both of them nearly touched the ball on every play leading to the final 19 seconds of the first half until a clear separation began. Unfortunately for the Blue Bombers, Evans stole the show the rest of the afternoon.
The sophomore intercepted Weber twice and returned both of them for scores and later scored two rushing second-half touchdowns for an impressive four-touchdown afternoon as host Pen Argyl routed Palmerton, 34-6, in a Colonial League matchup.
In the first two quarters, neither team could get inside their opponents 45-yard line until Weber connected with wide receiver Travis Labyack on a 16-yard reception that put Palmerton on the Pen Argyl 40. Two plays later, Weber again went to work in the air, finding Alex Vignone on a 28-yard hookup that gave Palmerton a first down at the Pen Argyl 12. But their drive stalled there as Weber didn't gain any yards rushing and had two incomplete passes.
After Pen Argyl (3-6) was forced to punt on its next possession, Weber hit Josh Grohotolski on a 13-yard reception and the Pen Argyl was flagged for offsides, both actions combined to give the ball to Palmerton on the Pen Argyl 39. On the next play, Weber attempted to hit Grohotolski downfield, but the wide receiver slipped on the muddy turf a light swirling rain was present throughout most the game and Wolf's attempt ended up in the hands of Evans, who raced down the sidelines to complete a 64-yard toward the end zone to break a scoreless tie with 19 seconds left in the half.
On the second play after the ensuing kickoff, Weber looked downfield again and Evans was again the unlikely recipient as he dashed 48 yards down field into the end zone. It was Weber's third interception of the first half.
In a shocking turn of events, the Blue Bombers (1-8) quickly were in an unexpected two-touchdown hole instead of one, and Palmerton head coach Chris McArdle was also a bit stunned.
"What a difference a minute makes," said McArdle. "Heading into the last minute of the first half, I thought we were controlling the game pretty well. Offensively, we were moving the ball.
"But, it happens. One of our kids slipped on the first touchdown, and his (Weber's) ball sailed a little bit on the second. He (Evans) made great plays on both scores. We didn't want to go down with fighting. We had some time left on the clock and we wanted to move forward."
Despite the setback, McArdle was confident his team could bounce back in the second half.
"The mood was great in the locker room at halftime," McArdle stressed. "Our kids are great. They were playing hard and that's all you can ask from them. We knew we had a shot after halftime."
Palmerton forced Pen Argyl to punt on its first possession of the second half, but a fumble on the punt return gave Pen Argyl the ball back on the Palmerton 23. Four plays later, Evans scored the first of his two second-half TDs when he bullied his way into the end zone from six yards out for a 21-0 lead.
"That hurt us, too," McArdle said. "We were pumped to come out in the second half, and then another turnover happens. It can happen with a young club."
The fifth Palmerton turnover and Yost's fourth of five interceptions gave Pen Argyl the ball back again after the ensuing kickoff, and Evans burrowed his way through the line, this time from five yards out for a commanding 27-0 advantage with 4:27 left in the third quarter.
Palmerton avoided the shut out with an 11-play, 60 -yard drive that culminated with Weber scoring on a 1-yard plunge with 10:56 left in the game.