What started out as a defensive battle turned into a rout for Northwestern (5-2) as their offense broke through in the second-half of the game to score 21 unanswered points on their way to a 28-0 win and the end of a 12 year losing skid to rival Northern Lehigh (1-6). The Tigers hadn't beaten Northern Lehigh since a playoff win in 2002 and hadn't won in the regular season meetings since 2001. Northwestern also hadn't won at Bulldog Stadium since 1996.
Northwestern turned the ball over on downs on their first drive of the game, but took advantage of a five-yard punt by Northern Lehigh and had to march just 41 yards on their next possession and after Brendan Miller nailed the point after, the Tigers were up 7-0.
Harry Hall again got the bulk of the carries for Northwestern, carrying the ball 26 times and finishing the night with 161 yards. Hall had 66 yards rushing in the first-half before picking up 51 more on the opening drive of the second-half when the Tigers went 70 yards, taking just over eight minutes off the clock, putting themselves up 14-0.
"In the first-half, we tried to run right up the middle," said coach Josh Snyder. "We went in at half-time and said 'what are our best plays to the outside?' and we tried to get our skill guys outside and that softened them up a little bit and then we were able to hit a tough play-action for the touchdown."
The play-action pass was a 40-yard strike to Alex Bobbyn down the left side of the field that junior quarterback Frank Dangello placed perfectly. The touchdown pass put the Tigers up comfortably at 21-0. Dangello collected 96 yards passing on the night, leaving him 122 yards shy of 2,000 yards passing for his career. His two touchdown passes give him 24 career touchdown passes, stretching out his school record that he set earlier this season.
"Our offensive line is very good. The improvements that they made from last year to this year, I can't even explain it; they're amazing and I can't thank them enough," said Dangello.
Northern Lehigh started their next drive at their own 27 and faced a fourth-and-one at the 36 and decided to go for the first down. As they did most of the night, the Bulldogs handed the ball to junior running back Nate Farber, but the Tigers defense stuffed him for no gain and took over on downs at the Northern Lehigh 36 yard line. An incomplete pass on first-and-ten followed by a three-yard gain by Hall and an illegal procedure penalty left the Tigers with a third-and-12 at the 38 and they again went to the play action pass and Dangello hit Taylor Breininger to put the Tigers up 28-0 after the point after kick by Miller. Breininger had been helped off the field late in the first-half after being tackled and having his leg bent awkwardly underneath him, but returned in the second-half as though nothing had happened.
Farber finished the night with 169 of the Bulldogs 225 yards rushing. The Tigers defense held the Bulldogs to minus-four yards passing on the night.
Northwestern was without Cameron Richardson for the second week in a row because of a foot injury. Richardson practiced Thursday, but wasn't ready to play. Snyder hopes to have his top receiver back for the game against Pen Argyl next week, but still has him listed as day-to-day.
Breaking the losing streak against the Bulldogs was a key goal for the team this season.
"I challenged the seniors not to leave a legacy, but to start one," said Snyder about the streak. "The players got this done tonight and I'm proud of them."
Dangello said the players had the streak in the back of their minds even though they tried not to focus on it too much during the week leading up to the game. "We didn't talk about it much or think about it too much, but it was there. We wanted to get this one tonight and end all of that."