Unbeaten Pirates shut out Salisbury
Over a few plays, Salisbury had a potentially tight game with undefeated Palisades suddenly change into a one-sided affair.
The Falcons (2-4) were victims of three turnovers (a blocked punt, an interception, and a fumble) in a three-minute span that resulted in 21 points and they eventually fell to Palisades, 49-0, Friday night at Salisbury High School.
Deadlocked in a scoreless tie and facing a facing a fourth down on their own 40-yard line, Salisbury punter Oliver Stewart had his attempt blocked, and the ball rolled backward to the end zone. Palisades’ Ethan Brader recovered for the game’s first score.
On the next possession, the Falcons fumbled on their own 31-yard line. The Pirates scored four plays later.
Palisades (6-0), which recorded a lopsided 35-14 victory over Catasauqua a week earlier, showed why it might have this year’s Colonial League title locked up as the Pirates quickly pushed it to 21-0 when Salisbury quarterback Cameron Vaka’s pass was picked off by Palisades’ Pat Lodwig on the 30-yard line. Lodwig raced down the sideline for the score.
Salisbury’s offense continued to be stymied by a quick, aggressive Palisades’ defense throughout the opening half. Palisades erupted for two more scores before the half, and posted a 35-0 deficit at the half.
Overall, the Falcons were held to 133 yards of total offense.
“Turnovers hurt us,” said interim head coach and assistant Geoff Laird, as head coach Andy Cerco served a one-game suspension. “They are a very good team and we just couldn’t get it going.”
“I though tthe blocked punt was the difference in the game,” said Palisades head coach Kevin Ronalds. “We started slow and they came at us. Once we got the punt, we got our game in gear.”
Midway through the second quarter, Salisbury had its most impressive possession of the night. The Falcons went on an 11-play drive that eventually ended at the Palisades 34-yard line when they couldn’t convert a fourth down.
Unfortunately for the Falcons, Palisades wasted little time padding its lead. Two plays later, Brader hit Matt McGrath in stride over the middle of the field. McGrath shrugged off a tackle and outraced the Falcons’ secondary to complete a 67-yard scoring play.
Prior to the score, Brader helped his own cause when he broke free on a 44-yard scamper to help set up a two-yard touchdown plunge by Trey Gretzinger that made it 28-0.
With a running clock the second half, Salisbury managed only two series on offense, pulling their starters after the opening one.
Vaka completed three of eight passes for 27 yards, and Tim Buda was the leading rusher with 40 yards.