Bulldog 'D' steps up
If there was any question about Northern Lehigh's defense, it got answered Friday night.
The Bulldogs limited Northwestern to just 76 total yards and two first downs in a 21-0 victory to stay undefeated.
"Our offense gets a lot of highlights but our defense tonight was outstanding," said Northern Lehigh head coach Joe Tout.
In two previous games against Coloinal League contenders, the Bulldogs got into track meets, beating Wilson 52-36 and Pen Argyl 35-20.
But on a gusty night in New Tripoli, the game was more like a tractor pull.
"Northern Lehigh's content to do three yards at a time," said Northwestern head coach Tom Linette. "That's the thing that is so tough with them. They'll grind it out and they're content with a short game. They're patient."
While Northern Lehigh (7-0) was converting six of 11 third downs and two of three fourth downs, the Tigers (5-2) managed just one third down conversion and had no offensive plays go for more than 12 yards.
The Bulldogs ran twice as many offensive plays as the Tigers, 64-32.
"Our defense stepped it up big time," said linebacker Matt Gill. "Everyone thought our defense was weak this year. I think we played really strong."
Gill, along with linemen Kyle Schomp and Kyle Greenwald, kept Northwestern's backs from getting free. When the Tigers went to the pass game, the Bulldogs got pressure, partly due to good coverage.
"We didn't have any open receivers down field," said Linette. "We've been struggling in our pass game all year."
While the statistics lean heavily toward Northern Lehigh, it was a close game until the final 10 minutes.
Northern Lehigh scored on its first possession, going 68 yards in eight plays, capped by a 26-yard Remaley scamper to go ahead 7-0 with 5:36 left in the first quarter.
The Bulldogs had three other first-half drives, one stalled at the Northwestern 10-yard line while the other two stalled inside the Tigers' 35-yard line.
Northwestern, which ran for a first down on the game's first play, gained just one more the rest of the game, and that came early in the second quarter. The Tigers final five possessions, spanning over the final 28 minutes of the game, netted no first downs.
"I thought as long as we played our keys I didn't think they'd score many points on us," Tout said. "A shut out? Did I think that? No."
Early in the second half it seemed that early touchdown might be the only scoring.
After exchanging possessions to start the third quarter, Northern Lehigh put together a long drive, going from its own 36-yard line to the Northwestern 7-yard line in nine plays.
But a false start penalty and some good Northwestern defense kept them out of the end zone and kept it a 7-point game.
The Tigers took over at their own 1-yard line, moved the ball four yards in three plays and were forced to punt. Because 28 seconds remained in the third quarter, they had to punt into the strong wind.
The wind played a role in the kicking game and it seemed most of the time it was in the Tigers' face when punting situations came up.
"I can't remember playing in a wind like that," Linette said. "I knew it was going to effect special teams."
The Tigers punted just 28 yards. The Bulldogs took over 34 yards from paydirt. A 32-yard pass from Dylan Hoffman to Jake Kern got them most of the way. Matt Gill rumbled in from a yard out to put Northern Lehigh ahead 14-0 with 9:49 left in the fourth quarter.
After another stop by the Bulldog defense, the offense took over and went 45 yards in six plays. Kern also ended the drive, going in from a yard out to make it 21-0 with just 5:17 left in the game.
"This is an amazing win," said Remaley. "They're our biggest rival. I've beaten them all four years of my high school career."
The Colonial League's all-time rushing leader had 175 yards on 38 carries. As usual, he wasn't very concerned about his statistics.
"At the end of the day we put enough points on the board to get a victory so I'm happy with that," Remaley said.