HELLERTOWN – It's a matter of quality over quantity.
Northern Lehigh didn't use its passing game often against Saucon Valley. But when the Bulldogs went to the air Friday night in Hellertown, they made the most of it.
Quarterback Dylan Hofmann threw just eight passes, but half of his six completions went for touchdowns in a 36-0 win over the Panthers.
"They blitzed a lot so we had the flats open on a lot of routes," Hofmann said. "They didn't really adjust so we took advantage of it."
Hofmann completed two passes on his team's first touchdown drive. The Bulldogs, which recovered a Saucon Valley fumble on the game's opening drive, went 78 yards in 12 plays, capped by Nick Valentini's 13-yard touchdown catch with 2:32 left in the first quarter for a 7-0 lead.
"That was big because coming off the bus we needed to get a little boost, a little bit of momentum," Valentini said. "The Northern Lehigh tradition is to try and run it down their throat. This year we have a lot of different athletes so we're going to try to mix it up a little bit."
The Bulldogs (3-0) went back to the pass on their next possession. On a third down and 11 from the Panthers' 37-yard line, Hofmann dropped back and gave a quick fake to the flat. That was enough to get Dalton Johnson a step on his defender down the sideline. Hofmann hit Johnson in stride and the senior receiver went for a 37-yard touchdown and a 14-0 lead with 11:54 left in the first half.
The Bulldog defense started to settle in from there. The Panthers' first four drives resulted in two turnovers and two punts.
After forcing a Saucon Valley (0-3) punt deep in Northern Lehigh territory, the Bulldogs started their third touchdown drive on their own 45-yard line.
It took 12 plays, including a converted fake punt, to score as Kirk Bender blasted in from two yards out to give his team a 21-0 lead with 1:01 left in the first half.
Each team punted away its first two second-half possessions, but Northern Lehigh put together a back-breaking drive late in the third quarter.
Starting at their own 19-yard line, the Bulldogs came out in their version of a Wildcat offense, with Bender and Kyle Schomp lead blocking for Hofmann, who lined up in a shotgun in the Wildcat.
Five Hofmann runs netted three first downs. But it was a 50-yard pass to Darien Middaugh that got the Bulldogs to the end zone for the fourth time in the game. A two-point conversion made it 29-0 with :41 left in the third quarter.
Four different Bulldogs hit pay dirt in the game.
"We don't have that one workhorse," said Northern Lehigh head coach Joe Tout. "We're trying to be smart about not riding one kid. We feel that's our strength, our skill on offense and getting the ball to a lot of kids."
The Bulldogs put the game into the mercy rule with Bender's 12-yard touchdown run with 6:32 left in the game.
Hofmann ran for 103 yards on 12 carries while throwing for 131 yards on 6-for-8 passing.
"He made smart decisions throwing the football tonight," Tout said. "They blitzed and were blowing up a lot of our plays. That's why we were able to throw the ball more than we generally do. Our goal when we throw is to be consistent. I thought Dylan did a good job of that."
The Bulldog defense shut down the Panthers, allowing just 171 total yards and only six first downs while forcing three turnovers.
"Three games, three wins," Hofmann said. "You can't be happier than that. We just have to keep doing our job."