SAUCON VALLEY HIGH SCHOOL – Southern Lehigh’s varsity football team once again proved to be too much for its opponents to handle, giving the Saucon Valley Panthers a 43-6 pounding here Oct. 22.
Southern Lehigh (6-2) has outscored its opponents 134-20 in the last three weeks since losing two games to Northwestern Lehigh and Pen Argyl.
After senior halfback Nick Kirsch picked up a first down early in the game with a seven-yard run to the Spartan 29, Southern Lehigh punted the ball back to Saucon Valley. However, the Spartan secondary didn’t give senior quarterback Andrew Remaly the opportunity to convert a 3rd-and-1, forcing the Panthers to punt to Southern Lehigh’s 20-yard line.
Senior halfback Matt Gotzon broke loose for a 17-yard run on first down. After Kirsch and Matt Gotzon moved the ball to the Spartan 48-yard line, junior quarterback Ty Edmond threw a long ball to senior wide receiver Jeff Smillie at the Panther 17-yard line. Matt Gotzon rumbled through would-be tacklers for an 11-yard gain to get the Spartans to the 6-yard line. One 5-yard penalty later, the junior quarterback sprinted to his left while connecting with Smillie again for an 11-yard touchdown pass. Senior kicker D.J. Williams made good on the extra point attempt, putting Southern Lehigh ahead 7-0 with 2:20 left in the first quarter.
The Panthers gave the ball right back to Southern Lehigh. After starting with good field position at the Panther 35-yard line, Saucon Valley’s senior tight end Matt Orban fumbled the ball away to Matt Gotzon at the Panther 39-yard line. Edmond nearly made a costly error by throwing into double coverage, but his pass fell incomplete. Senior fullback Luke Gotzon picked up four yards on second down. Edmond’s passes were tipped on the next two plays, which gave Saucon Valley the ball back at their own 35-yard line.
On 2nd-and-9, Luke Gotzon hit Remaly as he released the ball, almost leading to an interception by senior linebacker Ray Durkin. Durkin followed up that play by taking Remaly down on a quarterback draw, forcing a Saucon Valley punt to start the second quarter.
Starting at their own 33-yard line, the Spartans put together a 67-yard, three-minute drive with a mixed air and ground attack. Edmond picked up 13 yards on a pass to senior halfback Keaton Eisenhauer to get Southern Lehigh near midfield. Matt Gotzon then broke free for a 16-yard run, followed up by a great run by Eisenhauer which was negated by a holding penalty. Undaunted, Southern Lehigh attacked again with a Kirsch run for 16 yards. Edmond nearly found Smillie for a score, but the ball fell off his stretched-out fingertips, and out the back of the end zone. Determined now more than ever, Eisenhauer took the next handoff 16 yards for a touchdown. When Edmond came on to hold for Williams’ extra point attempt, Edmond took the snap, pirouetted to his left, and threw a perfect pass to senior fullback Jake Meluskey for a two-point conversion to make it 15-0, Southern Lehigh.
The Panthers came back full-throttle on the next drive. Remaly found senior wide receiver Chris Voag open for 18 yards on first down, then picked up eight more on a pass to senior tight end Jason Okken at the Panther 46-yard line. The Panthers converted a 4th-and-inches on a quarterback sneak by Remaly. Senior running back Ian Gimbar picked up 12 yards to get Saucon Valley down to the Spartan 33-yard line. Matt Gotzon blitzed unblocked on 2nd-and-9, pressuring Remaly into an incomplete pass. However, on 3rd-and-9, Gimbar ran for another 10 yards, giving Saucon Valley a first down at the Spartan 23-yard line. On first down, senior cornerback Alex Kocse broke up a would-be touchdown pass intended for Voag. After giving up another four yards to Gimbar on second down, the Spartan defense held firm, stopping senior running back Brandon Shuck for no gain on 4th-and-6.
Edmond quickly led his team downfield, beginning with a 9-yard pass to Smillie. Matt Gotzon then took a pitch for 14 yards. Edmond’s pass on first down went too high for Kirsch to catch, but second down throw to Smillie netted 13 yards for the Spartans. Edmond capped off the 77-yard, five-play drive by getting the ball to senior tight end Sam Terlingo. Terlingo’s hard running and his teammates’ blocking downfield gave the senior a 41-yard touchdown reception. Williams’ extra point made the score 22-0 with 2:07 remaining in the first half.
Kocse nearly picked off Remaly on first down from the Panther 27-yard line. Remaly made good on the next pass, finding Voag at the Spartan 44-yard line. The Panthers could only gain one more yard, however, giving the Spartans another chance to score before the half. On the Spartans’ second play, Luke Gotzon broke free for a wild, wide-ranging, broken-tackle run for an apparent 56-yard touchdown. However, the touchdown was negated by a block in the back at the 13-yard line. Edmond took over at the Panther 23-yard line and got sacked for an eight-yard loss by Okken and freshman linebacker Thomas Misiak. After a timeout, Southern Lehigh gave the ball to Matt Gotzon for a seven-yard gain. On 3rd-and-11 with 13.3 seconds to go, Edmond threw to Smillie in the end zone. However, Voag knocked the pass away, forcing a 4th-and-11. Edmond threw behind his intended receiver and into the arms of junior defensive back Josh Hough to end the half.
Saucon Valley came out of the locker room aggressively. The Panthers surprised Southern Lehigh by successfully executing an onside kick to begin the half. With the ball at Southern Lehigh’s 36-yard line, the Panthers looked ready to resume the attack. But the Spartans held firm. After giving up a nine-yard pass to junior tight end Sean Miller, the Spartans dropped Shuck for a five-yard loss at the Spartan 31-yard line. An incomplete pass and a timeout later, Gimbar could only pick up three yards, putting Saucon Valley in a 4th-and-12 quandry. Remaly attempted to convert the fourth down with a pass into traffic that bounced off Kocse’s helmet. Inexplicably, referees called defensive pass interference against Southern Lehigh, a call that Southern Lehigh Head Coach John Toman called “terrible” and “horrible.” Unable to convince the zebras himself, Toman’s defense did the talking for him and got the ball back from Saucon Valley after a Durkin sack and multiple incompletions.
Edmond did his share of talking on the first play of the next drive by finding Smillie open for 22 yards. Southern Lehigh’s running backs were not silent either, as Matt Gotzon, Kirsch, and Eisenhauer combined for 34 yards to put Southern Lehigh at the Panther 12-yard line. Edmond thanked his ground-pounders by giving them a breather. Going to the air, the junior found Smillie in the end zone for Smillie’s second touchdown of the night. Williams’ extra point made the score 29-0, with 5:28 left in the third quarter.
Both teams earned unsportsmanlike conduct penalties on the ensuing kickoff. Southern Lehigh took the ball back on 3rd-and-11 when Durkin picked off a pass that bounced off a Panther receiver. With a short, 16-yard field, Southern Lehigh hardly needed help to find their way to the end zone again. But Saucon Valley was generous and gave them five yards on an encroachment penalty, putting the ball on their own 11-yard line. Matt Gotzon delivered the coup de grace on the next play, stretching across the goal line for an 11-yard touchdown run. The Spartans’ reliable kicker Williams converted the extra point attempt to put Southern Lehigh ahead 36-0.
However unbelievable it must have been to give up two scores in less than three minutes, Saucon Valley would soon learn more painful lessons, after fumbling away the kickoff to junior halfback Jared Gerhard. Kirsch almost took the ensuing handoff in for a score, but got knocked out of bounds at the one-yard line. Southern Lehigh didn’t waste any time earning that last yard. Kirsch took the ball in on the next play, and after a Williams extra point, Southern Lehigh was ahead 43-0 with 1:40 left in the third quarter.
Mercifully, Southern Lehigh didn’t see the ball again until near the end of the game, and so didn’t run the score up any more. But for as much as Saucon Valley impressed on its 10-minute, 71-yard touchdown drive throughout the fourth quarter, Southern Lehigh’s defense showed grit in nearly pulling off its third shutout of the season.
With a 4th-and-6 at the Panther 33-yard line, the Spartan defense had forced Saucon Valley into an apparent punting situation. But Gimbar gave Saucon Valley new life on a 10-yard, fake punt run. Saucon Valley methodically worked the ball down the rest of the field on screen passes and runs by Shuck and Gimbar. Durkin saved a score with a great tackle on Gimbar at the Spartan 4-yard line. Southern Lehigh then stuffed Shuck at the 3-yard line on 1st-and-goal. On second down junior running back Nick Binczak slipped in the backfield, putting Saucon Valley back at the Spartan 6-yard line. However, on third down Voag slipped around Kocse’s tight coverage to haul in Remaly’s pass for Saucon Valley’s first and only score of the night. The extra point attempt was no good, leaving Southern Lehigh ahead 43-6 with 3:19 remaining in the game.
After Matt Gotzon recovered the onside kick, Williams came in as quarterback and handed off several times to Gerhard and junior halfback Matt Durkin to finish the game.
Southern Lehigh will next play Palisades at Southern Lehigh Middle School at 7 p.m. on Oct. 29.