With a very good chance at an Eastern Conference playoff berth on the line, Catasauqua pulled out all the stops.
The Rough Riders used a new wildcat look and a gadget play for three of their four touchdowns in a 28-14 win over Northwestern Friday night in New Tripoli.
"These kids wanted this one bad tonight," said Catty head coach Tom Falzone. "They knew what was at stake – a chance to play on."
The Roughies will likely be a No. 3 or 4 seed in the Eastern Conference Division II playoffs, depending on other outcomes.
With running back Nate Falko taking snaps in a shotgun formation, Catty ran for 116 first-half yards and went into halftime tied with Northwestern, 14-14. Falko ran for 37 yards and a touchdown in the first half. Alex Brown had 67 yards and one score in the first half as the Roughies ran almost exclusively out of the new look, which was something they hadn't used all season.
"We didn't show that," said Falcone. "It's something we had in. We were working on it for a little bit. We had pretty good running backs out there. We wanted to try to use them tonight. Nate's a talented kid. He can handle that job. Being able to use him like that is nice. He can throw out of that if he has to."
Falko didn't throw any passes, but receiver Sa'Quon Burton did. With the game tied at 14, Burton threw a wide receiver pass to Kyle Nyce for a 29-yard touchdown with 7:13 left in the third quarter. Northwestern got beat on a similar play last week against Bangor.
"I think they saw last week that we were susceptible to that," said Northwestern head coach Tom Linette.
Catty gained momentum with that touchdown and never gave it back.
"We had second and short," said Falcone. "We thought it was a good time to do it. It was huge."
The Rough Rider defense dug in after halftime. The Tigers gained 201 yards and had nine first downs in the first half. After halftime they punted on their first four possessions and had just 48 yards and three first downs.
In the first half, Northwestern answered two Catty touchdowns with scores on the next drive. In the second half, the Catty defense didn't allow it.
"First half it was back and forth," said Falzone. "Our defense couldn't tackle anybody. We're definitely happy with how [the defense] responded in the second half."
Catty got its first score on an 11-yard Falko run with 5:54 to go in the first quarter.
Northwestern responded with a nine-play drive capped by Matthew Naugle's 17-yard touchdown run.
The Roughies went back ahead quickly. After a big 1:31 left in the first quarter.
Again, Northwestern evened the score with an 11-play drive, highlighted by a 24-yard third-down completion from Ben Snyder to Ty Cunningham and capped by Bobby Clymer's 1-yard run.
Northwestern's offense stalled after that. Catty went ahead on its first possession of the second half with Burton's touchdown throw to Nyce.
The Roughies put the icing on the cake when Falko plunged in from a yard out to make it 28-14 with 9:51 left in the game.
Northwestern, which lost four straight games after a 5-1 start, ends its season with the loss.
"They left everything on the field," Linette said of his team's effort. "Nobody wanted their season to end tonight. They gave it their best shot."