HELLERTOWN - Palmerton Head Coach Paul McArdle knew that putting his starting quarterback in on the defensive side of the ball was risky.
The move payed off, however, as Zach Freed was in the right spot at the right time to intercept Saucon Valley's Andrew Remaly's final pass attempt for a 36-34 win.
Freed returned to the offensive side to take a knee with eight seconds remaining to shut the door on the Panthers' comeback attempt.
"Zach has had big games for us so far this season as quarterback and I thought he did well tonight when we had to put him in on defense for some plays," McArdle said. "He couldn't have come up with a bigger play for us than there at the end.
"We said going into the game that if Saucon could put together a complete game, from beginning to finish, that they would definitely give their opponents a strong effort."
The Panthers proved to do just that, as Remaly racked up 266 passing yards and four TDs.
Saucon drove 70 yards in 10 plays on their first series, finishing with a Remaly to Jason Okken 36-yard scoring reception.
On the ensuing kickoff Monty Szukics took it at the Bomber 23 and raced 77 yards through a pack of Panthers to answer the score. Alex Vignone's two-point conversion gave Palmerton a 8-7 lead.
Remaly threw one of his three interceptions on the night to give the Bombers in control deep in their own territory. They manufactured a 15-play, 95-yard drive, ending with a Levi Serfass two-yard plunge for a 14-7 lead with 8:37 left in the half.
The Panthers picked off a Bomber pass and made quick work on a Remaly-to-Okken connection for a TD to tie things up at 14.
With time running out in the first half, Saucon scored a go-ahead TD, as Remaly connected with Spencer Felix for a 21-14 lead at the break.
"After the last four minutes of the first half, and the way the kids performed, we told them at halftime that they could stay down in the tank and come out still playing that way, or they could respond," McArdle admitted. "They definitely responded well in that third quarter."
In the third, the Bombers outscored Saucon Valley 22-0 on three impressive plays.
Senior receiver Jeo Rodriguez stepped up with two straight scoring receptions of 20 and 55 yards, respectively. Vignone also broke loose for a 73-yard run to give Palmerton a 36-21 lead with 4:35 left in the third.
The Panthers' next possession also resulted in a turnover, which seemed to dim the lights on any comeback chances.
After a Bomber punt, however, Ian Gimbar produced a 10-yard TD run to narrow the gap to 36-27.
The Bombers fumbled the following kickoff and Saucon recovered, setting up a seven-play scoring drive that whiddled the Bomber lead to two with just under four minutes to play.
The Bombers tried to run out the clock and ended up punting with 25 seconds left.
After Remaly connected with Felix for 15 yards, Freed's defensive gem took place.
"I think we have some potential to do some good things," McArdle reflected and prognosticated. "We aren't looking very far into the future, as next week, we have to prepare for Palisades, who we have yet to beat with me as a coach."