Tigers top SL
Northwestern head coach Tom Linette wanted his offense to challenge a Southern Lehigh defense that has allowed just seven points per game this season.
The first year Tigers' mentor also wanted his defense to contain the Spartans' Wing-T offense, which distributes the wealth between six different running backs.
Linette got his wishes answered as Northwestern handed Southern Lehigh its first Colonial League loss of the season, 28-14.
"We made the best of the opportunities we had there in the first half," Linette said. "That was a wonderful first half for the offense. Then, the second half, the game belonged to the defense.
On the Tigers' second offensive possession of the first quarter, they put together a seven-play, 54-yard drive to post the game's first score. Ty Cunningham keyed the drive with a 26-yard scamper before the quarterback Ben Snyder finished the drive off. Snyder weaved through several Spartan defenders for a 14-yard touchdown run with 4:43 left in the opening frame. Andrew Deutsch added the extra point to make it 7-0.
After the Spartans answered with a Ty Edmond pass to Jeff Smillie, for a 28-yard touchdown that tied the game, the Tigers gave themselves plenty of breathing room in the second quarter.
With the Spartans forced to punt on their side of the field, Northwestern's Josh Werley blocked Sam Terlingo's punt, which gave the hosts great field position at the Spartans' 26.
Eight plays later, Snyder scored from three yards out.
On the Spartans' very next possession, Tiger linebacker Ty Cunningham stepped in front of a Spartans' receiver, intercepted the pass and returned it 31 yards to give the hosts the ball on the Spartans' 10 yard line.
Cunningham darted 10 yards for a touchdown on the first play from scrimmage. The kick failed as Northwestern went up 21-7 with 7:07 left in the second.
"I remember coming out of the lockerroom and coach (Greg) Mitchell said that we have to help the offense out by stealing some," Linette said. "And, that interception was important. We cashed in on the opportunities. We didn't leave the plays out here on the field and we were able to throw the ball with some degree of success.
It was a pass that capped the Tigers' scoring when Snyder found Cunningham open for a 25-yard touchdown which gave the Tigers' a comfortable 28-7 lead.
The Spartans' Edmond and Smillie didn't surrender without a fight as they combined for 37-yard and a 32-yard receptions to set up Edmond's five-yard touchdown run.
The second half then belonged to the defense as the teams exchanged punts in the third and the Spartans turned the ball over on downs twice in the final quarter. Cunningham (16 carries, 74 yards), Payton Bachman (nine carries, 42 yards) and Snyder (12 carries, 52 yards) helped eat up the clock, while the defense owned the second half holding the Spartans ground-game in check. The Spartans were held under 100 yards for the game.
"Our defense was stopping them," Cunningham said. "All we had to do is keep the ball out of their hands. As long as we did that, the game was ours."