Jake Kern does it all for Northern Lehigh.
The wide receiver/quarterback the ran the Bulldogs offense at one of the most critical times of the season Friday night, helping his team to a 35-20 win over Pen Argyl in a matchup of the last two undefeated teams in the Colonial League.
After struggling to move the ball in the first half, Kern was inserted at quarterback, working out of the shotgun with running back Cody Remaley and fullback Matt Gill flanking him.
He ran the ball all four times on a 4-play, 41-yard drive capped by his 5-yard touchdown that tied the game 14-14 with 9:58 left in the third quarter. It was the Bulldogs' first sustained drive of the game.
"We always talk about double tight football," said Northern Lehigh head coach Joe Tout. "That's a package where you're going to load up. We're going to load up too.
"We put that in last week for this week. We knew their defense hadn't given up a lot of yards or a lot of points, so it was our back up plan. If we needed something to spice it up that's what we were going to go with."
The Bulldogs sorely needed to spice things up. Other than a 76-yard Cody Remaley touchdown, they had just 28 yards of offense in the first half and were down 14-7 after two quarters.
"We knew were going to use that formation some time," said Kern. "We had to use it early because Pen Argyl was playing good defense."
The drive gave Northern Lehigh some momentum. Pen Argyl had scored a go-ahead touchdown with no time left in the first half. But the Knights didn't have an answer when Kern ran with Remaley and Gill lead blocking.
"You've got three all-league kids lining up next to each other in the backfield," said Pen Argyl head coach Paul Reduzzi. "That's not easy to stop."
The Knights answered Kern's touchdown with an 11-play scoring drive helped by a third-down pass interference penalty at their own 35-yard line. That touchdown gave Pen Argyl a 20-14 lead they took to the fourth quarter.
The Knights' next possession had a much different ending. After going three-and-out, third string punter Ryan Hurt, a freshman, mishandled a snap and didn't get the punt off. Northern Lehigh took over at the Green Knights' 27-yard line and went seven plays, capped by Kern's 11-yard touchdown catch from starting quarterback Dylan Hoffman, who got the throw off before a blitzing Knights defense got to him.
"The pass had to be quick," Hoffman said. "They were coming."
"That was a big-time throw," Tout said. "We don't throw the ball often. That was a big throw at a critical time."
That touchdown made it 21-20 with 7:14 left in the game.
The Bulldog defense began to stiffen in the second half. After allowing 207 yards in the first half, it gave up just 77 in the second half. With the 21-20 lead, the defense came up with another stop and the offense took advantage.
Starting at their own 43-yard line, the Bulldogs used six plays, including a 38-yard option run by Hoffman that set up Gill's 1-yard touchdown to make it 28-20 with 2:14 to play.
After a Trevor Yashur interception, Remaley, the Colonial League's all-time rushing leader, added a 63-yard touchdown run with 1:53 left to make it 35-20.
Remaley worked mostly as a blocker when Kern came in at quarterback, a came in at quarterback, a role he doesn't mind.
"Jake is an amazing athlete," Remaley said. "It was good for him to show what he could do."
Pen Argyl took the early lead on a 14-play drive in which Dylan Evans ran 10 times, including his 2-yard touchdown run with 9:58 left in the second quarter.
Evans ran 24 times for 101 yards in the first half but finished the game with 35 carries for 131 yards.
Northern Lehigh, which had just one first down on its first three possessions, tied it at 7-7 on a 76-yard Remaley touchdown run with 2:23 left in the first half.
The Knights, which benefitted from a 15-yard penalty on the extra point that was enforced on the kick off, got the ball back at their own 39 and needed eight plays to get into the end zone on Evans' 2-yard run with no time on the clock.