NL at Catty again
When a team or player plays a bad game against a team, they usually have to wait a whole year to make amends.
Two weeks ago, Northern Lehigh turned the ball over five times in a 40-7 loss to Catasauqua. If the loss wasn't bad enough, the win by the Rough Riders clinched the 2012 Colonial League championship.
This Friday night, the Bulldogs return to the scene of the crime and take on the Rough Riders in a District 11 Class 2A semifinal.
And they can't wait.
"We did a lot of good things, as far as moving the ball," said Northern Lehigh head coach Joe Tout. "The turnovers is more or less what we look at. We looked at the film again with the kids on Monday. Our first three offensive drives were real drives. We just had turnovers. If we would have limited that, it's a game."
With three minutes to go, Catasauqua had a 7-0 lead and despite some early miscues, were still very much in the game.
On their first offensive series, Northern Lehigh was working on a drive all the way down at the Catty 28 when it fumbled the ball away. The end result was a nifty 10-play drive by Catasauqua to take the one touchdown lead.
Catasauqua recovered a Northern Lehigh fumble on a punt at the Bulldogs' 19, but failed to take advantage of that miscue giving it back on a fumble itself on the next play.
The Bulldogs had another drive well under way late in the first half when they fumbled a pitch down on the Catty 19. The end result was another Catty touchdown.
If that wasn't bad enough, Northern Lehigh fumbled again with 26 seconds left in the half giving Catasauqua running back Eric Matz enough time to find the end zone one more time leaving the Bulldogs behind 20-0 at intermission. And they never recovered.
"Where we're at right now is just focusing right now on the things we did that hurt us to make sure we don't make those mistakes again," said Tout. "We have a couple of kids that have an opportunity to redeem themselves, that maybe didn't have their best game of the year. We get another chance and that's all you ever ask for."
The Rough Riders come into the game with a 10-0 record and the league title already under their belt. They have a solid running game, a good receiving corp and a quarterback who reads defenses very clearly.
"They have a lot of weapons so to me, looking back it, the key is their quarterback (Zach Bradley)," Tout said. "He puts the ball on the money. We have to find a way to get pressure on him. We can't let him become comfortable and throw the ball."
Bradley has completed 94 of 159 passes for 1,678 yards and 25 touchdowns in 10 games and has only thrown three interceptions.
"We did some positive things, but we have to put more pressure on them," said Tout. "We had them third and 15 a couple of times and we let them get a first down. Give them credit, but for us when we have those opportunities against a good team like that, we have to get off the field."
Catasauqua had other weapons, starting with running back Ra'Von Burton, who has rushed for 1,179 yards on 138 touches and 14 touches. Matz, another running back, has carried the b all 78 times for 688 yards and 13 TDs.
On the receiving end, Paryss Marshall has caught 33 passes for 693 yards and 12 touchdowns and Alex Parker has caught 28 passes for 568 yards and nine TDs.
"They are without question the most athletic team we've seen all year," Tout added. "At some point their kids made plays. We have to hope that the ball isn't on the money as much. He (Bradley) put the ball where it needed to be so they made plays sometimes when our kids were there.
"We'll take care of what we can take care of and when their kids make plays like that, so be it."
What the Bulldogs are focusing on this week is what they can do to improve from that game two weeks ago until this game.
Special teams is another area where the Bulldogs have to try and win the edge.
"We had some good kick returns against them last time," Tout quipped. "We always teach special teams as a third of the game so we have to make sure we do it again."
The Bulldogs (7-3) have no pressure. They're just going to go down there and let the chips fall. And to get back to the district playoffs again is also a plus.
"We actually spent a lot of time last week talking to our kids," said Tout. "We put a lot of pride into it. We've been in this 2A tournament so often, you worry that there are kids that don't understand that you have to work for it. And it's not just our coaching staff, it's our kids. Since June the kids have just worked and worked and worked. this year's senior class earned this."
So once again, the Bulldogs are in the post-season. And hopefully the younger kids in the program get a good taste of it so it continues.