"The monkey's off our back."
Those were the first words out of Northern Lehigh head coach Joe Tout's mouth after the Bulldogs handed Palmerton a 43-14 setback in the final Colonial League regular season game for both teams.
The Bulldogs had never beaten Palmerton in the first three years of Tout's head coaching career but that came to an end Friday night.
The win, combined with Northwestern Lehigh's victory over Catasauqua, earned the Bulldogs the No. 2 seed in the District 11 2A playoffs and a home game in next Saturday's opening round contest. It also gave Northern Lehigh possession of the "Battle of Blue Mountain Trophy".
Our kids played well, we bounced back after last week's loss," said Tout. "We talked about last week and thought we had to get passed it and we did a real good job of that tonight."
The Bombers showed some real spark early as the jumped out to a 6-0 lead on a brilliant catch by Josh Grohotolski of a Joe Weber pass for a 43-yard touchdown with 5:15 left in the opening quarter.
Palmerton defense caused another three-and-out by the Northern Lehigh offense and forced a punt, taking over on their own 30.
On second down, however, Northern Lehigh's Nick Hartman pounced on a Bomber fumble at the 28 and the momentum started to swing.
Tyler Bolton connected with tight end Joey Seremula for a touchdown on the first play and Cody Remaley ran in for the two-point conversion and a 8-6 lead and they never trailed the rest of the game.
The Bulldogs caught the Bombers off guard with an onside kick and Jake Kern recovered it on the Palmerton 40.
"We were worried," said Tout. "They have a lot of good kick returners so we tried something different. We capitalized on the turnovers, too."
Two plays later, Remaley broke loose for a 35-yard touchdown and Kirk Bender booted the PAT to make it 15-6 with 2:08 still on the clock in the first quarter.
"It was exactly like two years over here, but it was the opposite," said Palmerton head coach Paul McArdle. "They had a couple of turnovers early and we pounced on them and scored. This time we turned it over early and they scored.
"I was really happy with the way we moved the ball offensively with a freshman and sophomore in the backfield and a lot of young linemen. We'll be back."
Northern Lehigh added two more scores in the second quarter to take a 29-6 lead at intermission.
Matt Gill broke loose on a key fourth down play for a 31-yard touchdown and Remaley scored on a two-yard blast, both after Bomber turnovers.
Just as they started off Just as it started off in the first quarter, Palmerton came out of the locker room and made it a two-possession game as Weber hooked up with Christian Marcin for a 24-yard touchdown. Weber ran it in for the two-point conversion and it was 29-14.
The Bulldogs went to their money man in Remaley and on the next series, he carried seven straight times covering 65 yards with the final run going seven-yards for a touchdown. With 3:02 left in the third quarter, Bender's kick made it 36-14.
Kern scored on a reverse right at the start of the fourth quarter going 23 yards for the final score of the night with both teams going to their reserves.
"We're really excited that things have worked out this way," Tout added. "Our kids saying right now is 'It ain't over yet'."