History proves that a winning formula to a successful football team starts and ends with the ground game.
The running game proved to be their focal point of attack last night for both Northern Lehigh and Notre Dame. Both teams relied on their ground attack to open up the defense over the top.
Notre Dame did a little better job of it, however, and posted a 31-22 Colonial League victory.
The Bulldogs were looking to bounce back after last week's lopsided defeat against Southern Lehigh. The game did not exactly open up as planned.
Senior quarterback Chance DeLong fumbled twice on the opening drive. DeLong was hit as he attempted a pass and turned the ball over to the Crusaders on the fifth play of the game.
"We had breakdowns protection wise," said Northern Lehigh head coach Joe Tout. "We opened up the game with a turnover, and they scored on their first play after that. It's tough to open up the game with a turnover, but I thought we bounced back well tonight."
Notre Dame took over on the Bulldogs' 33 yard line and wasted no time putting points on the board. Senior quarterback Kordell Theadford displayed his pure athleticism and arm strength on this play. Theadford evaded much pressure as he weaved through Northern Lehigh defenders to throw an absolute dagger to Derek Gardner in the end zone.
"He's got great feet, great speed, and great arm strength," said Notre Dame's head coach Chuck Muller. "I couldn't have asked for a better leader. Our offense starts and finishes with Kordell. We're going to go where he takes us."
Theadford's only blunder of the night came on the Crusaders' next drive. He was picked off by Chance DeLong who ran the ball back to the NL 43-yard line.
DeLong took over and next completed a 47 yard pass deep down the sideline to Stephen Ingles off of a beautiful play action fake. Nate Farber took care of the rest on the ground as he scored Northern Lehigh's first touchdown of the game to even the score.
"I think we got the ground game back on track tonight," Tout said of his rushing attack. "They were sending ten guys which made it tough, but a steady ground game is going to be key for us the rest of the season."
The teams traded scores the rest of the half with Notre Dame taking a 21-14 lead into the lockers.
The second half started slow with two punts and a field goal on the first three series.
The energy in the stadium was quickly restored thanks to Notre Dame Junior running back Trey Watson. Watson picked up 156 yards on the ground in the game, including an electrifying 79-yard touchdown at the beginning of the fourth quarter to stretch Notre Dame's lead to 31-14
"Trey is such a blessed athlete," said Muller. "He's an all state kid on offense and defense. You were able to see his ability as he tip toed down the sideline."
The Bulldogs were able to strike again with five minutes left in the forth quarter. Nate Farber took care of business on the ground again. Thanks to Farber's hard running and a Bulldog two-point conversion, Northern Lehigh was only down nine points.
"I thought our kids did a good job tonight. We never stopped battling," said coach Tout.
Northern Lehigh attempted an unsuccessful onside kick immediately after the score.
The Crusaders were then able to chew up the clock thanks to a combined effort on the ground between Watson and Federico. Notre Dame ran the ball thirty-seven times and fell just short of 300 rushing yards as a team in the game. This ground attack helped Theadford have a successful two touchdown night.
"We have a great group of kids," said coach Muller of Notre Dame. "Our team is really coming together, specifically the line on both sides of the ball. Our kids are knocking the other team off of the line of scrimmage."