Nolehi edges Catty
bob ford/times news Dalton Johnson (80) and Nick Valentini (84) of Northern Lehigh celebrate after Johnson scored the Bulldogs' second touchdown.
Through three and a half quarters, timing and precision were nowhere to be found in Friday night's football game between Northern Lehigh and Catasauqua.
Despite being two of the Colonial League's top teams, the Bulldogs and Rough Riders had combined for seven turnovers and numerous penalties at inopportune times.
But when Nolehi needed to pull things together and come up big when it mattered most, it did just that.
The Bulldogs, moments after their lead had been trimmed to 13-7 on a fumble return for a touchdown, put together a 15-play, 60-yard drive that ran off the final 7:26 of the game and secured a berth in the district playoffs.
"We knew that we had to move the ball," said Trevor Yashur, who carried seven times during the final march. "We knew that we had to drive down and run time off the clock. Our line did a phenomenal job by getting a great push. We also got that big first down at the end to seal the deal.
"It was a sloppy game, all-around. Our defense pulled through and held them. We had to execute at the right times, and that's what we did."
After Catty's Sa'Quon Burton forced a fumble and went 27 yards to the end zone to get his team on the board, Northern Lehigh's next possession started at its own 34-yard line.
Joe Tout's squad moved down the field, collecting four first downs. The Bulldogs (8-1) converted on three third downs and a fourth-and-nine with a minute to play.
"Even that last drive was indicative of the night," said Tout. "We made it harder than we should have with a crucial penalty. That last drive, though, was our night."
The clinching first down came on Dylan Hofmann's 15-yard pass to Kirk Bender with a minute to play. From there, the Bulldogs took two knees to end it.
"They had used up their timeouts, and it was simply what can get us nine yards," said Tout. "We felt confident with that play. We ran it three times earlier. The flats were open and Dylan did a nice job. He did a nice job reading it."
Yashur, who ran 29 times for 152 yards, did a nice job getting his team a lead early.
On Northern Lehigh's second possession, the senior took a toss from Hofmann and went 49 yards for a 7-0 advantage.
While both teams continued to move the ball offensively in the opening two quarters, turnovers ended threats for each side.
Yashur intercepted a pass in the end zone while Kirk Bender and David Getz also picked off passes in Catty territory. The Bulldogs, meanwhile, finished with three fumbles lost.
"We moved the ball but we made so many mistakes," said Roughies mentor Tom Falzone, whose team dropped to 6-3. "Against a good team like this, you can't make the mistakes that we did.
"We played so well the entire game on defense but when we needed the stop we couldn't get it."
One of Catasauqua's other mistakes proved to be the winning score.
A snap over the head of the Roughies punter in the third quarter was eventually picked up and run into the end zone from three yards out.
"It wasn't pretty. It wasn't good," said Tout. "We knew coming in that if we won tonight we'd be in districts. But that wasn't playoff football. We have to get a lot better in a lot of ways."
"It was good effort on our part, but they're just a great team and they're going to give some people fits in districts," said Falzone.