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Bombers down Minersville

Palmerton’s offense could be compared to a high performance sports car this season, with its ability to score and score quickly.

The Bombers offense has performed at a high rate of speed, averaging over 42 points per game and possesses a host of players that can turn on a dime. Sometimes, a finely tuned machine needs some time to get a little heat in its engine before its ready to perform at its peak level.

On Friday, it did take a little time for the Palmerton offense to get going, but once it was firing on all cylinders, the Bombers were once again off to the races, piling up over 360 yards of total offense, defeating visiting Minersville, 45-24.

The Miners, who came into this one boasting an explosive passing attack that was averaging close to 250 yards per game through the air, had early success with its bubble screen game on the outside as they came away with an opening drive field goal to take a 3-0 lead. Minersville would hold that advantage the rest of the first quarter as the Palmerton offense struggled to get anything going, turning it over downs twice and punting it once on its first three offensive possessions.

“Early on and in the first quarter, we weren’t able to get a push up front with our offensive line. We needed to be better there early on and we struggled offensively because of that,” said Palmerton head coach Chris Walkowiak. “But I like the way we responded. Minersville came out and punched us in the mouth, but we came out in the second quarter and we were able to make some plays.”

The Bombers, who forced two turnovers in the first quarter, dialed up the pressure on Minersville quarterback John Adams in the second and it paid immediate dividends. An Adams interception at the 9:28 mark helped setup Palmerton’s first offensive score of the night – a Matt Machalik 10-yard rushing touchdown to give the Bombers a 6-3 lead.

Minersville would then answer after an uncanny turn of events on its next possession. After being forced to punt and punting from their own 19, a bad snap that sailed over punter Jason Cullen’s head and dribbled into the end zone resulted in a first down when Cullen scooped up the ball and rolled right and heaved the ball to Adam Frie for a big pickup to the Miners 34-yard line.

Then, after the Miners were forced to punt yet again on the drive, a roughing the punter penalty extended the series, which when the possession was all said and done, resulted in a 47-yard connection from Adams to Cullen for a TD, giving Minersville a 10-6 lead with 4:50 left in the half.

But the big play has been the equalizer all season long for the Bombers, and they went to their big play quarterback in Matt Machalik on their ensuing possession, who raced 69 yards to put Palmerton back on top. Machalik’s score at the 3:50 mark would be the start of a huge momentum swing, with the Bombers’ pressure forcing a safety on Minersville’s next possession. Machalik then got in once again, this time from 28 yards out to put his team up two scores.

“That sequence was definitely the swing or the turn in the game for sure. We brought a ton of pressure there and really throughout the night and we made them get rid of the ball a little quicker then they wanted and we were able to force some turnovers and win the turnover battle,” said Walkowiak.

“I liked the way our guys ran the ball as the game went on as well, finishing runs strong and taking some time off the clock. There are definitely some things we need to work on, but there a lot of positives to take away from this one as well.”

Leading 24-10 at the half, Palmerton came out and quickly made it a 20-point game after Machalik’s fourth score of the night. Minersville was able to score two more touchdowns in the second to stay within arms length, but touchdown runs from Daniel Lucykanish and Lucas Heydt matched the Miners.

FOOT ON THE GAS … Machalik continued his super sophomore season with another sensational performance, rushing for 217 yards, scoring four TDs, to make that 26 on the season, and also came through with his fifth interception.

CREATING TURNOVERS … Palmerton was a plus-14 coming into the game and once again won the turnover battle, forcing three interceptions and a fumble, to its one lost fumble, meaning the Bombers are now plus-17 in the turnover department.

Palmerton's Matt Machalik tries to break away from a Minersville defender during Friday's contest. LYNN SHUPP/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS