One thing that Northern Lehigh head coach Joe Tout has preached to his football team since he took over the program was that he wanted to see them get better every week.
And with Palmerton on the card for a rivalry game for the Blue Mountain Trophy, one of the keys he stressed again coming off a close win over Catasauqua last week, was how important it was to be on top of their game with District 11 playoff seeding implications depending on the result.
The Bulldogs took charge early and rolled to a 41-12 victory over the host Blue Bombers to give Tout his 50th win as head coach and send them to North Schuylkill next week in the District 11 2A semifinals.
"Palmerton's record is deceiving," said Tout afterwards. "They're a good football team and at times they look very good.
"Tonight, I think our kids came out and we got better. Last week we had the turnovers, we had some penalties again. They came out and took care of business in a rivalry game like this and they did what we asked and they improved."
Nolehi quarterback Dylan Hofmann ran for a touchdown and threw three TD passes in the victory and senior David Getz caught two touchdown passes and also ran for one to help the Bulldogs stay on the offensive.
The real gamebreaker, however, was a Hofmann to Caleb Johnson pass for a 13-yard touchdown with eight seconds remaining in the half for a 27-6 lead at intermission. Hofmann scrambled to his right, broke a couple of tackles and found Johnson behind the Blue bomber defenders for six.
"That was the the deflater," Tout said, about the touchdown right before half. "Dylan has that knack. It's not pretty, it's ugly to watch. He just does a nice job keeping things alive and our receivers know that.
"Caleb did a nice job coming back and that sealed it. That made it a lot easier for us at the half that we kind of took the air our of their sails with that one."
Palmerton head coach Chris Walkowiak agreed.
"The play before the half just deflated us," he said. "We had the quarterback scrambling around and they made the play.
"That's why they're a good team. They made the big plays and they're well coached. The game was closer than the final score indicated, but they have a bunch of playmakers.
"Hofmann is a real good athlete. He can hurt you with his feet the way he gets around. He's a great player."
The Bulldogs took advantage of an interception by Trevor Yashur that gave them good field position at the Palmerton 29 for their first score.
On the fifth play of the drive, Getz came around and ran it in from the one and with Kirk Bender's PAT, the Bulldogs led 7-0 with 4:36 left in the first quarter.
Another interception by Getz on Palmerton's first play after the ensuing kickoff gave Northern Lehigh the ball on the Blue Bombers' 48. Hofmann broke loose on the first play for a 38-yard score and 26 seconds after the first TD, Northern Lehigh had another. Bender's kick made it 14-0 and things were starting to unravel for the Bombers.
As the second quarter started, Bender broke loose on a 52-yard run and his PAT lifted the Northern Lehigh lead to 21-0.
Mitchell Good caught a 25-yard pass from Cody Grohotolski to put the Bombers on the board and make it 21-6 with 4:53 left in the half.
The Bulldogs and Hofmann engineered a eight-play drive that ended on the Johnson TD catch with eight seconds remaining, setting the halftime lead for the Bulldogs at 27-6.
Palmerton came out with a little firepower to start the second half, but Getz intercepted a pass in the end zone to halt the Bomber threat.
Northern Lehigh put together an 80-yard drive with Getz on the receiving end of a 28-yard TD pass from Hofmann. Getz also caught a pass for the t conversion to make it 35-6.
A 33-yard TD reception by Getz off of another Hofmann throw just as the final quarter started sent it into the 'Mercy Rule" at 41-6.
Gabe Leon added the final score of the night on a five-yard run for Palmerton.