No. Lehigh rolls over Bombers
It’s raining, it’s pouring, the Bulldogs are scoring.
And throughout much of Northern Lehigh’s 43-14 win over Palmerton on Friday, the precipitation and points were coming in droves.
By the time the Bulldogs’ cheerleaders started their chant late in the third quarter, Northern Lehigh had built a 43-0 lead en route to claiming the Battle of the Blue Mountain title.
The Bulldogs sliced through a driving rain and the Bombers’ defense with power and speed to claim their fourth straight win.
And the defense grounded an attack that had posted over 40 points in seven straight games, holding Palmerton to under 100 yards rushing.
The performance came a week after a 28-7 win over Salisbury, where the Falcons’ gained 324 yards of offense and quarterback Nicholas Beck rushed for 229 yards.
“We kind of went back to the drawing board like we did after North Schuylkill,” Northern Lehigh head coach Joe Tout said of the 56-42 loss to the Spartans in Week 6. “We took last week personal, we challenged our kids. We knew what Palmerton had been putting up all season, the points they had been putting up. Our kids just came out tonight, and they were hungry.
“This was the best week of practice we had at least since North Schuylkill, maybe our best week of the year. We knew they’d be keyed up in this rivalry game. We’re proud of the effort. We tell our kids three phases, offense, defense and special teams, and I thought we won all three.”
The Bulldogs’ (7-3) forced four turnovers, including one on the opening kickoff.
With winds swirling and rain coming down, Brett Misera popped the ball up high into the air on Northern Lehigh’s opening kickoff of the game. The ball slipped away from the Bombers once it landed, giving the Bulldogs’ a short field.
Northern Lehigh marched 37 yards, with Matt Frame punching it in from two yards out for his first of three rushing touchdowns on the night. Trevor Amorim added the two-point conversion to make it 8-0 with 8:23 left in the opening quarter.
“We came out real early, and it’s something that we put in this week,” said Tout. “A lot of teams do that, but you have to have a kicker that can pull it off. The weather was perfect for it. And specifically going this way, when we found out we were kicking off, that cross wind, Brett was kicking it and it was going five yards out of bounds when we were out early, and that hooked back in. And we did that before Palmerton got here, and he had the confidence in it, and that was just huge.
“That gave us all the momentum.”
Palmerton (8-2) drove to the Northern Lehigh 15 on its next series, but the Bulldogs forced an incompletion on fourth and eight in the endzone.
The Bombers, who led the area at +17 in turnover margin, responded with a pick by Daniel Lucykanish on Northern Lehigh’s first play from scrimmage on the ensuing drive, but Nick Frame returned the favor with an interception for the Bulldogs.
Dylan Smoyer hit Matt Frame on a screen pass on third and seven on the next drive for a 48-yard score. Amorim’s run made it 16-0 with 2:49 left in the first quarter.
“I just had to make one cut on that, and then there was just open field,” said Frame, who finished with 88 yards rushing. “I was kind of surprised myself. It definitely feels really good with everybody working together, the blocking was great, and to score like that is really deflating for a defense.”
The Bulldogs scored on their next two drives to push the lead to 30-0, with Frame adding a 46-yard run and Smoyer hitting Misera for a 13-yard score on a ball that was tipped in the endzone.
Misera had a pick to end Palmerton’s next drive.
Lucas Heydt recovered a fumble for Palmerton on NL’s next drive, but the Bombers’ offense stalled on fourth down.
Frame added a 9-yard score to make it 36-0 with 48.9 left in the first half.
“The weather had nothing to do with it,” said Bombers’ coach Chris Walkowiak. “We got smacked in the mouth, and we turned the ball over. Period. We turned the ball over, they executed, and we knew coming in they’re a good football team, and that’s the name of the game.”
Amorim scored a 5-yard touchdown on the Bulldogs’ first series of the second half to make it 43-0.
The area’s top offense, Northern Lehigh finished with 374 yards.
Palmerton scored twice in the fourth quarter, with Matt Machalik hitting Harrison Dailey for a 31-yard score, and Heydt adding a 61-yard touchdown run.
The Bulldogs held the Bombers to 228 yards of offense, well below their season average of 385.2.
... Northern Lehigh and Palmerton are in the top two spots in the District 11 Class 2A ratings, and likely will meet again in the postseason.
... Palmerton had won seven in a row. The Bombers’ last loss was a 17-14 setback against Jim Thorpe in Week 2. Palmerton has scored at least 41 points in all of its wins this year.