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Bombers roll again

PINE GROVE - Palmerton has been able to break big plays all year.

And the Blue Bombers have been able to do it in a variety of ways.

Palmerton put its playmakers on display during Friday night’s 51-7 win over Pine Grove.

“I think as a team, as a whole, we’re gritty,” said Bombers’ head coach Chris Walkowiak. “I think we show a lot of guts, a lot of resiliency. We preach integrity, doing what’s right and not what’s easy, and tenacity. We talk about getting off to fast starts and maximizing our time and playing complementary football, playing offense, defense and special teams.

“At some point in the game tonight, everybody contributed on offense, defense, and special teams. And we’re very selfless. Offensively, we spread the ball around, we block for each other, and defensively, we’ve been pretty strong, and we’ve limited the big plays, which has helped.”

All three phases were key in helping Palmerton (6-1) rip off its fifth straight win.

Matt Machalik helped keep the Bombers soaring.

Machalik punctuated the first half by picking off Cardinals’ QB Carson Lengle near the goal line and returning it 100 yards the other way for a score. Kameron Behler added the extra point to push the lead to 35-7 with 12.5 seconds left in the first half.

Pine Grove (1-6) had third and goal from the 4-yard line when Machalik made the pick.

“That was a big change of momentum there right before the half,” said Walkowiak. “They were going in there and could have made it a two score game at that point.

“So to take that, turn it around, and then get the ball to open the second half was big for us. We had 35 points at halftime, but we knew it wasn’t a pretty 35 points. We need to execute much better, but overall we bent a little bit on that drive, but we didn’t break. We talked coming into the week about the defense scoring, and that was a huge one.”

The Bombers forced three interceptions and one fumble in the first half. But they also fumbled twice in the first half, and three times total.

Machalik completed 4 of 5 pass attempts for 76 yards and a score in the first half. He also carried the ball 13 times for 76 yards and three scores over the first two quarters.

Machalik hit Daniel Lucykanish streaking over the middle for a 41-yard score and Stephen Jones (11 carries, 110 yards) punched in the two-point conversion to make it 28-7 with 2:15 left in the first half.

The drive started after Lengle was picked by Dalton Drake.

Machalik went in from 10 yards out for his third score and converted a two-point play to push the Bombers’ lead to 20-7 with 4:45 left in the first half.

The sophomore ran in his second score from three yards out after Jeremy Mooney’s interception put the Bombers’ at the Pine Grove 6.

“Defensively, I thought we brought a lot of pressure,” said Walkowiak. “I thought Ty Sander had a really good game at outside linebacker for us, which opened up some other things there, and then our secondary got the turnovers.

“We didn’t start off the way we wanted, so that’s something that we definitely have to work on. It was sloppy at times, we uncharacteristically put the ball on the ground, too, so that’s definitely going to be a point of emphasis during the week. But overall I thought we took care of what we needed to do, and I was proud of their effort.”

The second half was much of the same, with Machalik’s fourth rushing score of the night and two-point conversion making it 43-7.

After failing to get a punt off late in the fourth quarter, Palmerton took over at the Pine Grove 25 and needed four plays for Jones to score from 18 yards out. Jones added the two-point conversion to make it 51-7.

“It was amazing,” said Machalik. “We came in ready to fire off the ball tonight, and bring everyone. And we did that. They were worried about that, and we just kept doing that all night and made stops ans that translated over to offense, where it gave us momentum and we just pushed the ball down the field and scored. It helped a lot.”

SOARING … Palmerton is averaging 48.8 points per game during its winning streak. The Bombers have outscored opponents 244-35 during their run.

NEXT … Palmerton hosts Mahanoy Area next week.