GREEN POND - Judging by the scoreboard and the amount of first half superstar plays, most would agree that both Palmerton and Notre Dame of Green Pond suffered dearly from rustiness and jitters that typically accompany the first game of the season.
After intermission, however, the fans in attendance were treated to an exciting contest between two teams desperately in search of a win. It was Palmerton eventually pulling out a 19-12 come-from-behind victory.
"It's always a great feeling to start the season with a win," PHS head coach Chris Walkowiak mentioned. "Last year, we suffered losses in this type of close game situations, but tonight, we fought through it."
Late in the third frame, there was a big play that seemed to turn the tide in favor of the Bombers, before they rattled off three straight scores to take charge.
After Notre Dame senior tailback Kyree Bowles scored earlier in the third quarter on a 20-yard rush to put his team in the short-lived lead, Palmerton punted and the Crusaders took over on their own 26.
Six plays later, the Crusaders were faced with a fourth and nine from the 50 and got set to punt. A botched snap forced Notre Dame punter Connor Hughes to make a run for it. The Bombers stopped him short of the first down and took over on their own 48.
About a minute and four plays later, Bomber senior QB Cody Grohotolski ran left, found some room and got in for a eight-yard TD. Nick Carullo's PAT put the locals in front, 7-6, with 10:24 left in the game.
The Crusaders followed with a drive that prematurely ended, when Palmerton's Alex Vignone came up with potentially the biggest play of the game. He intercepted a Kordell Theadford pass at his own 40 and returned it ball 59 yards down to the Notre Dame one. Two plays later, Vignone pounded the ball in from the three for the score, putting his team ahead 13-6 with 8:26 remaining.
After the two teams traded possessions, Notre Dame fumbled and Aaron Cook recovered it at the Crusaders' 13 and the Bombers converted when Grohotolski snuck in from the one for a 19-6 advantage with 2:06 left.
Notre Dame showed resolve, as they received a huge play from Dysean Alexander, as he turned a reception from Theadford into a 52-yard score, making it 19-12 with 1:43 on the clock.
However, the Bombers earned a first down after taking the ensuing kickoff and ran out the clock.
"Palmerton is a tough team," ND head coach Chuck Muller admitted afterwards. "A lot of the things that we were successful with in our two scrimmages, they took away from us. You have to give them credit."
Coach Walkowiak commended all of his roster, but thought there were some individuals that stepped up.
"Kane (Kralik; 5-10, 220-pound senior two-way lineman) is just a great player to have on our team," Walkowiak mentioned. "We expect it out of him because he is a tremendous athlete, and one of our captains."