Bombers stun Northwestern
RON GOWER/TIMES NEWS Palmerton's Aaron Cook looks for running room outside in a 21-14 win over Northwestern.
During last week's practices, Palmerton's coaching staff challenged its offensive linemen to play well against Northwestern.
The guys in the trenches stepped up to the challenge, leading the Bombers to a 21-14 win over the Tigers Friday night in New Tripoli.
"Coach called the offensive linemen out and they really executed this week," said receiver Monty Szukics, who caught two touchdowns and picked off two Northwestern passes.
The Bomber offensive line shined, especially on third downs. The team convert six of seven in the first half while piling up 173 yards before intermission.
It wasn't only the running game, the line gave quarterback Cody Grohotolski time to complete seven of eight first-half passes.
Palmerton's defensive front, led by tackle John Snyder, was just as dominant in the first half, allowing just three Northwestern first downs. The Tigers only first-half touchdown came after a penalty gave them an extra play.
The Tigers (4-2) started moving the ball in the second half, but a big play near the goal line by Snyder and Szukics' two picks kept them out of the end zone.
"They have playmakers," Szukics said. "But I had confidence in our defense the whole time."
Palmerton's offense started working the first time it touched the ball. The Bombers went 57 yards in six plays on their opening drive. Alex Vignone scored from 13 yards out to give his team a 7-0 lead with 7:48 left in the first quarter.
"All the credit goes to the offensive line," Vignone said. "Our coaches called them out and they responded in a big way. We all had huge holes to run through."
The Bombers (3-3) went ahead 14-0 early with 11:43 left in the second quarter when Szukics caught a 14-yard touchdown pass from Grohotolski, capping a 55-yard, nine-play drive.
Szukics second score came on Palmerton's next possession, an 11-play march that included nine running plays and four third-down conversions.
On a third and four, Szukics and Grohotolski connected for a 30-yard score that gave their team a 21-0 lead with 3:33 left in the first half.
Northwestern responded with an 11-play touchdown drive that ended with a 6-yard touchdown pass from Ty Cunningham to Payton Bachman. The play was run with no time left on the second half clock as a pass interference penalty gave the Tigers an untimed down to end the half.
The Bombers turned the ball over on two of their first three possessions in the second half. The Tigers turned the second one, a James Bachert interception into points.
A 33-yard catch by Alex Bobbyn set up Payton Bachman's one-yard touchdown run that cut the lead to 21-14 with 3:23 left in the third quarter.
The Tigers had four more possessions in the second half, but couldn't get to the end zone. Their best opportunity came on a first and goal from the 1-yard line early in the third quarter. The Tigers ran a speed sweep and John Snyder blew it up for a five-yard loss.
"We bent but didn't break," said Palmerton head coach Chris Walkowiak. "We made key plays when we had to. John Snyder and Kane Kralik have been playing lights out at tackle."
Northwestern finished the game with just 26 rushing yards on 25 carries as their offensive line had trouble holding off the Palmerton defensive front.
"They took away our inside run game," said Northwestern head coach Tom Linette.
Both teams now head into a four-game stretch against teams that were all undefeated heading into last night.