Salisbury knocks off Bombers
Palmerton’s Andrew Sabo tries to break away from a couple of Salisbury defenders during Friday’s Colonial League game. NANCY SCHOLZ/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS
ALLENTOWN — The final box score will show Salisbury with four turnovers and Palmerton with only two. But the more telling fact was what Salisbury was able to do off those turnovers.
The Falcons (6-3) capitalized on Palmerton’s mistakes on Friday night to secure a 28-14 win at Salisbury High School. It was Salisbury’s second straight win.
“It was about not finishing drives and opportunities were there that we did not capitalize on,” Palmerton head coach Chris Walkowiak said. “We forced turnovers and we had opportunities.”
Salisbury raced out to a quick 14-0 lead with touchdowns on its first two possessions. Timmy Buda got the scoring underway with a 2-yard touchdown run that capped a nine-play Falcon drive.
After a turnover-on-downs (the first of five for Palmerton on the night), Salisbury’s offense got back to work. And it only took one play — a 62-yard untouched run by Kyle Killiri — to find paydirt once again for a quick 14-0 advantage.
“We got off to a slow start, which didn’t help,” Walkowiak said. “We had a few nice drives. [Alex] Sabo ran the ball hard. We ran the ball well at times. In key circumstances and key situations, we just didn’t perform as well as we could have.”
The Blue Bombers (3-6), however, wouldn’t just roll over as some might have expected.
Jordan Neslon took the ensuing kickoff 80 yards to the house to get Palmerton within 14-7 after he also kicked the extra point.
Three drives later, the Blue Bombers went back to work after Salisbury lost its second fumble of the first half. Sabo — who ran for 181 yards on 25 carries — ran the ball 10 times on Palmerton’s next drive and scored from eight yards out to tie the game at 14 all.
But that’s the only one of the four turnovers that Palmerton was able to generate points off of.
The Bombers would have a chance going into halftime to take the lead. But after an interception by Weston Schaffer handed the ball back over to Salisbury, Quintin Stephens found Buda on a 41-yard touchdown pass on the next play from scrimmage with 23 seconds remaining.
“The score before halftime was a key one because we had a little something going there,” Walkowiak said. “And then we turn the ball over and they capitalize on it. There’s the double-edged sword on that one.”
Salisbury lost a fumble on its first drive of the third quarter, but Palmerton would have to punt after its drive stalled. Two series later, an interception from Stephens gave the Blue Bombers life once again, but that chance fizzled out after picking up just nine yards on four plays.
The Falcons would seal the deal by running out most of the rest of the clock. Quintin Stephens picked up three key first downs on third down to keep the chains moving.
He found Schaffer for a 24-yard touchdown on a 4th-and-8 play with just six seconds remaining to end any chance at a miracle comeback.
“That’s another thing — you have to get off the field on third downs,” Walkowiak said. “Those are the things we preach and do. When you have third downs, you have to get off the field and give the ball to the offense. And then when we create turnovers, we have to capitalize and score. That’s basic complimentary football.”
WHO’S UP NEXT? ... Palmerton will finish its season with a home game against Northern Lehigh next week. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. on Friday night.
LOW ON NUMBERS ... The Blue Bombers had just 24 players on its roster entering Friday night’s game, and only 17 played against the Falcons. Still, Palmerton fought until the final whistle and rallied from an early two-touchdown deficit. “It’s actually pretty impressive what we get out of them,” Walkowiak said. “They play their hearts out right until the end. It’s tough to run with 17 kids. They get tired, but they are fighters. They are really resilient. Their effort was outstanding.”