Bombers bounce back to beat Salisbury
It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.
After clinging to a two-point lead at halftime, Palmerton dominated the second half against Salisbury en route to a 35-14 Colonial League victory last Friday night in Palmerton.
It was a tale of two halves for the Falcons, who opened up the game with a 13-play, 55-yard scoring drive. But the Bombers answered right back with a four-play drive. On Palmerton’s first offensive play of the contest, Tanner Burnett took a 37-yard handoff. Stasko eventually capped the drive with a 16-yard scamper.
Later in the second quarter, Heydt tossed a pick-six to Delano McKenzie, which gave the Falcons a 14-8 advantage.
“That’s one thing that really stood out in this game—we started out fast,” Salisbury head coach Andy Cerco said. “It’s something that we’ve struggled with all year. We got the opening kickoff and drove 13 plays. It was a great drive. Our kids executed really well. That was definitely a positive coming out of that game.”
But on the very next play from scrimmage for Palmerton, Waterhouse took a handoff and went 60 yards for a score.
“They have athletes all over the place tonight,” Bomber head coach Chris Walkowiak said of Salisbury. “They had our attention all week. We challenged our athletes to rise to the occasion this week, because I think we have a good crew of them too.”
And the Bombers took all of that momentum into halftime, as they would outscore the Falcons by a 19-0 margin across the final two periods.
Jordan Nelson checked into the game after halftime for Palmerton and was an immediate difference-maker. On the Bombers’ first play of the third frame, he ran for a 21-yard gain. Stasko then started the party with a 60-yard touchdown run, which put his team up 22-14 early in the third frame. He finished with 125 rushing yards.
Then, the Palmerton defense looked like a different team.
Immediately after Stasko’s big run, the Falcons put together a 12-play drive and attempted a 27-yard field goal, only to have it blocked. On Salisbury’s next possession, Kyle Killiri broke off a 34-yard run, deep into Bombers’ territory, with his team trailing by just one score. But Stasko had different ideas.
Before Killiri finished his run, Stasko stole the ball away from him, and before you knew it, Stasko made a few moves and burst deep into Salisbury territory.
“We continued to move the ball pretty much throughout the rest of the game, we just couldn’t get anything into the end zone,” Cerco said. “Even in the second half they were up 21-14, but we hit Kyle Killiri over the middle. I’m pretty convinced he was going to score, and if not get close to the goal line. They stripped the ball from him. And not only did they strip the ball, they returned it to our own 15-yard line.”
Two plays later, Nelson scored from 11 yards out to make it a 29-14 Palmerton lead, and the Bombers delivered a pair of game-changing plays within a minute of each other.
On Salisbury’s ensuing drive, Nelson intercepted quarterback Quintin Stephens, and then scored on a 17-yard run for the game’s final score. Nelson only played the final two quarters, but he was a clear difference maker on both sides of the ball.
“We had some shots later, too,” Cerco said. “We had some open receivers and we couldn’t connect.
“It was a good effort again from primarily backups. We had some starters out there…the backups that were in stepped in and did the best that they could. It‘s just a matter of where we are at with our injury situation here.”