EASTON – It might not be as high-powered as some of the Wilson Air Raid offenses of the past decade, but the Warriors still have enough weapons to win a game when given the opportunity. And on Saturday, they were given several opportunities.
Both teams made mistakes, but Wilson was better able to capitalize on Palmerton's miscues to come away with a 19-12 win in the Warriors' home opener.
"Without the mistakes it's definitely a different outcome," said Blue Bomber head coach Chris Walkowiak. "The bottom line is we're in control of that. We have to stop beating ourselves. We can't be playing against Wilson and Palmerton at the same time. Once we correct that, we'll be fine."
The Bombers turned the ball over four times and committed seven penalties for 70 yards. They were outgained by 140 yards, but came up with some big stops to keep the Warriors out of the end zone and stay within one score of the lead until the final buzzer.
"I thought our defense played well," said Walkowiak.
Wilson had five drives halted inside the Palmerton 35-yard line. The first two Warrior touchdowns came on one-play drives. The third came on a two-play possession.
"It's not a good feeling coming away with an empty sack," said Wilson head coach Brett Comp. "Once you get into the red zone with two teams that are just not used to winning right now, the pressure goes on the offense."
Palmerton drove 77 yards in six plays, capped by Tre Nelson's 18-yard touchdown run for a 6-0 lead with 5:26 left in the first quarter.
Wilson's defense allowed just 104 yards the rest of the day.
The Warriors tied the game after a Palmerton fumble put them 14 yards from pay dirt. Quarterback Ryan Dailey ran it in on the first play after the fumble to tie the game at 6-6 in the second quarter.
The Bombers answered when Jerry Pereira took the ensuing kickoff 79 for a touchdown and a 12-6 lead with 8:22 left in the first half.
Wilson got the lead back when a 15-yard punt resulted in good field position. Dailey connected with Zack Bogoly for a 51-yard touchdown to put the Warriors ahead 13-12 with 4:40 left in the second quarter.
Palmerton's offense struggled to move the ball in the second half. It failed to get inside the Warrior 35-yard line on six second-half possessions.
"I'm happy that the effort we gave was much better than last week," said Walkowiak. "However, we still need to get better. We still need to execute better."
The Warriors walked in for their final touchdown. Trailing by one point with time winding down in the fourth quarter, Walkowiak and his staff decided to give up the points in order to get the ball back and have a chance to win.
After Trey Robinson ran untouched for a 29-yard score with 1:32 left in the game, kicker Johhny Norris missed the extra point and opened the door for the Bombers to win with a touchdown and a two-point conversion.
But four incomplete passes gave the ball back to the Warriors with just over a minute left.
"I think we made improvements," Walkowiak said. "We did get better. That's a positive. We played for 48 minutes and did what we asked them to do. We gave ourselves opportunities, but the bottom line is we have to capitalize on our opportunities."
The Blue Bombers' Alex Vignone ran for 108 yards on 17 totes.