WILSON - After the first 12 minutes of its Colonial League opener against pre-season state-ranked Wilson, the Palmerton Blue Bombers had to be happy with the way things were going.
There was no score. The Warriors, with senior Tyler Smith, who is headed for the University of Maryland after graduation, completed just one of his first seven passes with a interception. And they had trouble from the get-go being penalized twice for illegal procedure before being able to run a play.
Things changed dramatically in the second quarter, however, as Smith found his rhythm and guided six straight scoring drives en route to a 45-8 victory on Saturday afternoon.
He finished the day with 13 completions on 21 attempts for 285 yards and four TDs and only played one series in the second half.
"It was a rather auspicious begin today," said Wilson head coach Brett Comp. "It was the hiccups, nervousness, day one and home opener. You get the yips in a rhythm offense and it takes a little time to settle down. That's why I called a timeout right away."
While Smith was fine tuning his arm, the Warriors defense stifled the Palmerton offense, allowing the Blue Bombers to put up just 30 yards until midway in the fourth quarter when the reserves mustered the lone scoring drive for the locals.
"Defensively I thought we did well early on," said Palmerton head coach Paul McArdle afterwards, "We were going blow-for-blow. They didn't score and we just didn't get it done offensively.
"I thought we could do some stuff a little bit differently than we've done in the past because they've been successful stopping us. We just didn't execute. It was a couple of dropped balls, a couple of mental mistakes where we lined up wrong and get penalized taking big plays away from us. We don't make those mistakes and it's 7-7 instead of 14-0.
"We've got to learn from that. We're young with five seniors on the roster and we made some young mistakes and we got beat by a good team today."
Two big completions for 37 and 34 yards by Smith where Palmerton defenders got turned around put the ball down on the 10 yard line setting up a keeper by the talented QB for the first score with 8:39 left in the half.
The second came less than two minutes later, set up when a Joe Weber-to-Aaron Cook completion out near midfield was called back for a five-yard illegal formation penalty. The Bombers were forced to punt deep in their own territory and it was blocked with Wilson taking over on the four. A.J. Parker took it in from there and it was quickly 14-0 with still 7:01 remaining in the second quarter.
"I have to applaud (Weber) his effort," said McArdle. "He put everything on the field today both offensively and defensively. We'll put it together. He put some balls on the numbers there a couple of times and we didn't catch them. They (Wilson) looked a lot more oiled and ready to go than we did."
The Warriors got good field position on their own 49 on their next offensive series and it took Smith just two plays to engineer another score. He hooked up with Kowan Scott for a 42-yard TD and he still wasn't finished.
He completed five passes on the next scoring drive that ended on a 18-yard strike in the corner of the end zone to Brian Cooper. It was the first of three straight TD passes to Cooper. A 33-yard strike with 30 seconds left in the half to Cooper again made it 35-0 after Chris Rodriguez booted his fifth straight PAT.
The entire second half was played under the mercy rule and the final Smith-to-Cooper TD pass came with 5:49 remaining in the third quarter from 10 yards out.
"We told the offense to go out there and drive the ball," said Comp" The defense went on the field and was motivated all day. It was an
explosion in the second quarter in a lot of different ways. Our offense did it's job and defensively and special teams we were outstanding.
"At the end of the first quarter, if I'm Palmerton, regardless of the offensive output, I've got to feel good about being in this game. We can't afford to let people hang around because everyone wants to beat us."
Rodriguez booted a 20-yard field goal to give Wilson a 45-0 lead with 52 ticks still left on the clock in the third quarter.
Palmerton's Zach Freed completed two big passes to Geo Rodriguez for 31 and 12 yards in a scoring drive with the latter being in the end zone with 56 seconds left in the game. Freshman Alex Vignone ran in for the two-point conversion to end the scoring.
Wilson hits the road to take on a hungry Northern Lehigh team, while the Bombers host Southern Lehigh in their home opener on Friday.