GREEN POND Following his team's extremely tough 12-7 win over Notre Dame of Green Pond Friday night, Northern Lehigh head coach Joe Tout was clear that his program didn't want to make any excuses for why the game was so close.
In fact, the Crusaders had more than one opportunity to pull off an 'upset' during the fourth quarter. Up until Nate Farber's last-minute first down sealed the win for the Bulldogs, the game's outcome remained teetering in the balance.
"We definitely had to earn this win," Tout said. "Notre Dame was 1-0, it was their home opener, and they're a much-improved team from years past. We don't make any excuses for this win."
In a game that saw all of the scoring done in the third quarter, the Bulldogs proved to be the victor.
The first half saw the defense of both teams hold fast and limit the opposition to short gains and a scoreless outcome.
The second half started with the 'Dawgs taking the ball hard on the ground. Caleb Johnson finished off a 10-play drive that started on their own 33 with the game's initial TD. However, a failed PAT kept the lead at 6-0 with just over seven minutes left in the third quarter.
"They definitely caught us off guard in the second half," Notre Dame head coach Chuck Muller said. "Give Northern Lehigh credit. They proved how tough they are by pounding it at us."
Muller's crew responded impressively, though, as they took the ensuing kickoff and charged right at the Bulldogs. Five plays were all they needed before Kordell Theadford connected with an airborne Noah Miller in the deep right corner of the endzone for a brilliant catch. After Chris Dutter's PAT sailed through, ND took a 7-6 lead.
On Northern Lehigh's next drive, Farber took the ball four yards, before QB Danny Marsh made a huge play. He took the ball out left on an option, and broke loose, sprinting up the sideline for a 68-yard gain, taking the ball down to the Crusader three-yard line. After a flag, Farber finished it off with a two-yard run for what proved to be the game-winner.
"Farber is only a sophomore and we have to remember what we are asking out of him," Tout said. "But we are definitely aware of his potential to make great things.
"Marsh had a big game for us. He ran the option well tonight. I think that was the difference."
Between the two of them, Farber (20 carries, 92 yards) and Marsh (14-93) were too tough to stop.
In the final frame, the Bulldogs' defense made the slim lead hold up.
"We just challenged our kids to play hard and they did," Tout said. "This was our first game on the road this season and it was going to be a challenge. But we earned it."