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Panthers outrun No. Lehigh

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Published September 21. 2019 02:03AM

The hype surrounding the contest between two programs that sported identical 3-1 records was warranted

Saucon Valley and Northern Lehigh lived up to the advanced billing on the Bulldogs’ Homecoming Night as they battled back and forth the entire night.

In the end, however, it came down to who took better care of the ball on offense.

Two interceptions and a fumble cost Northern Lehigh as it dropped a 21-14 decision, which kept the Panthers in contention in the Colonial League race.

“I’m just so proud of our kids for competing and playing with such great effort,” Saucon Valley head coach Brad Trembler said. “Northern Lehigh is a great football team and they wanted it. This was a tough environment, so for us to get out of here with a ‘W,’ says a lot about the resolve of our kids and this group. I couldn’t be prouder.”

On a night when Northern Lehigh honored the 1969 10-0 football squad, Bulldog head coach Joe Tout wanted to give the crowd a good game. Despite the excitement of the outing and the last minute outcome, Tout wishes things could have panned out differently.

“The effort by our kids was great, but we’re not going to take that next step until we clean those things up,” Tout said referring to the turnovers. “Saucon is a good football team and they’re 4-1 for a reason. But the one difference tonight was — three turnovers for us, and they didn’t have any.”

The Panthers didn’t squander their first possession, taking the ball down the field for an opening score as sophomore quarterback Dante Mahaffey punched it in from the two for the early 7-0 edge.

Early in the second frame, sophomore defensive back Anthony Orlemann intercepted a Zach Moyer pass in the ‘Dawgs’ end zone to end a threat. Three plays later, Mahaffey found a streaking Ty Csencsits across the middle, who turned the pass into a 70-yard touchdown to make it 14-0 with under eight minutes to play before half.

The Bulldogs, who consistently moved the ball throughout the contest, eventually got on the scoreboard with 1:13 left in the half. Junior Joe Abidelli pounded it in from the one to cut the Panthers’ lead 14-7 at the break.

“I thought the momentum swung our way there, near the end of the half and then in the second half, I thought once we scored that first touchdown we were back in the game,” Tout said.

On their second possession of the third quarter, the Bulldogs punched in the tying score when Matt Frame found pay dirt from the four.

But the 14-14 deadlock didn’t last long.

That was in large part due to Damian Garcia, who highlighted the Panthers’ ensuing scoring drive, running on six of his team’s seven plays for 60 yards, including the last two for the go-ahead scorer.

After a fumble ended Northern Lehigh’s next possession, the Bulldogs had one final opportunity as they drove the ball into Saucon territory. But on a fourth-and-three play from the Panthers’ 19-yard line, Matt Warnke came up with a big tackle to secure the victory.

“We want teams to have to work in order to score and execute their offense, and there at the end, Nick (Warnke) said, ‘slant me and I’ll make the play and he did,” Trembler said.

HOLDING COURT ... Dale Wanamaker and Madison Amorim were named Homecoming King and Queen during the halftime festivities.

LITTLE DIFFERENCES ... The game was so close, statistically, as eight yards separated the two sides in total offense — Saucon’s 256 to Nolehi’s 248.

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