It's not too often that a coach complains about a win being too ugly. In fact, Palmerton Head Coach Paul McArdle doesn't mind how ugly his team's 18-17 come-from-behind, last-minute win over Saucon Valley might have been.
In the final two minutes, Palmerton's senior quarterback Joe Weber connected with junior receiver Christian Marcin for two touchdowns, bringing his team back for the seemingly impossible win.
"We needed this win, without a doubt," a relieved McArdle gushed. "It was a 'must win' and it wasn't pretty but that's fine with me."
Despite the late-game heroics of Marcin and Weber, even more impressive was the Bomber defense, which forced and came up with big play after big play. Sophomore defensive back Nick Bickowski forced two fumbles, recovering one of them and had an interception adding to the excitement that led to the win.
"Our defense was just great tonight and I was just hoping that our offense wouldn't let them down," McArdle admitted. "But we hung in there and came up with the big win."
Early on, the locals faced deficits of 14-0 and 17-6 early in the second half. The Bombers showed it pays to 'keep the heads in the game', as Weber's TD passes to Marcin of 21 and six yards produced the miraculous win.
It only took two plays for Saucon to score as Terrell Drayton took the ball on his team's second play from scrimmage and raced 77 yards for the initial TD.
Early in the second frame, the Panthers gained insurance on a 20-yard TD pass from Andrew Remaly to Jason Okken for the 14-0 lead with 10:57 left in the second frame.
After a trade of possessions, the Bombers had their opportunity and came up with an eight-play, 62-yard drive, and ending with a one-yard push by Weber to cut into the lead. With just over five minutes remaining before half, the Bombers still trailed, 14-6.
The third quarter saw Tucker Sandercock boot a 30-yard field goal, ballooning the Panther lead to 17-6 with 4:38 remaining.
Up until the Bomber comeback, PHS had opportunities, as they recovered SV turnovers, but they turned up empty-handed. The perseverance paid off down the stretch though.
The Bombers took the ball with under six minutes to go on their 41. The drive seemed to stall, as the locals faced a fourth and 15 from the Saucon 21, before Marcin hauled in a beautiful pass, providing some late game hope.
The Bombers' Cody Grohotolski recovered an onsides kickand more hope was added.
The Bombers put together a 51-yard, eleven-play drive that was probably their most impressive possession of the night. On a third-and-goal from the Saucon thirteen, a pass interference on the Panthers provided enough breathing room for Weber to find Marcin, who beat his defender for the game-winner.
"I told our kids at our team dinner last night that we needed to find our own identity," McArdle stated. "We've been waiting for that to emerge and sometimes it takes a couple games."
Weber's performance was tremendous, according to his coach. "He was just taking beating after beating and the way he came back, I thought, was just outstanding and something you want from your leader on the field.
"We made a change offensively this week moving Travis Labyack to flanker and Marcin to tailback and both had big games."