CENTER VALLEY – Long, time-consuming drives that don't result in points are just that – long and time consuming.
Northwestern had too many of them Friday night in a 16-7 loss to Southern Lehigh.
"The bend but don't break philosophy," said Southern Lehigh head coach Jon Toman. "They moved the ball on us but our defense made the plays."
Northwestern (2-2) had four possessions of nine plays or more. The results were one touchdown, a missed field goal, an interception and a turnover on downs. One scoreless drive ended at the Spartan 8-yard line. Another at the 21. The other at the 30.
"We've got to make plays," said Northwestern head coach Bob Mitchell. "We had the opportunity to make plays. We didn't and as a result of that you have to credit them for taking advantage of their opportunities and putting it in the end zone."
Southern Lehigh (3-1) capitalized on both trips it made inside the Northwestern 25-yard line.
The Spartans operated under the veteran leadership of quarterback Corey Sroka, who threw for a touchdown and ran for a touchdown. He completed five of seven passes with one interception.
"He's matured," Toman said. "He has a good understanding of what we're trying to do and what were trying to accomplish. He's just executing and making good decisions."
Sroka's first touchdown was a 19-yard pass to Jeff Smillie in which he helped pull coverage off the receiver by scrambling out of the pocket toward the line of scrimmage.
That score gave his team a 6-0 lead with 7:11 left in the first half.
Northwestern answered with a 10-play drive, capped by a 10-yard Garrett Lerner reception of a Trevor German pass for the touchdown. Lerner had catches of 21 and 20 yards on the 70-yard drive, which put the Tigers ahead 7-6 with 1:16 left in the second quarter.
Sroka scrambled for the Spartans second touchdown, a 14-yard scamper on the opening possession of the second half.
The Spartan defense took over from there. It allowed Northwestern 214 yards of offense in the game, but only one touchdown.
Linebacker Kevin Cameron and the rest of the Southern Lehigh defense made big plays all game long and sealed it with two interceptions and a safety all in the final 4:11 of the game.
Cameron, a three-year starter, had two tackles for loss and came up with the final interception to seal the win.
"Kevin is kind of an unsung hero," Toman said. "He's been the anchor on our defense."
The win also gives the Spartans an edge in the Class AAA district playoff race, where both teams are fighting for one of four spots.