Hall, NW down Palmerton
Nancy Scholz/Special to the TIMES NEWS Northwestern's Harry Hall tries to break away from Palmerton defender Alex Raub.
It was another big night for Harry Hall, who rushed for a career-high 198 yards and three touchdowns as Northwestern downed Palmerton 35-7 to move to 4-2 on the season. It was the second week in a row that Hall set a career-high for rushing yards, besting his total of 195 set last week at Notre Dame.
Things went well for the Tigers from the outset, although it didn't appear it was going to go that way. The Blue Bombers Mike Stasko returned the opening kick-off 54 yards deep into Northwestern territory, but Stasko lost the ball and the Tigers recovered at their own 25-yard line. Quarterback Frank Dangello methodically moved the ball down the field and hit Taylor Breininger for the first of two touchdown passes on the night for the duo. Northwestern scored on their next possession as well, going 83 yards in six plays, capped off by a 48-yard touchdown run by Hall that put Northwestern up 14-0.
"I always preach that we want to play better this week than we did the last week and that first quarter I thought might have been our best of the season," said coach Josh Snyder. "That second quarter, we didn't move the ball as well and had some penalties again, but our defense stayed strong. I didn't yell at halftime, but I challenged our guys to play 24 minutes like they did the first 12."
Apparently, Snyder didn't have to yell to get his message across, because Northwestern got the ball to open the second half and again scored on their first possession when Hall barreled through the line from one yard out to put the Tigers up 21-0. Palmerton (2-4), who managed just eight total yards of offense in the first half, seemed to come out of the locker room stronger offensively in the second half and moved the ball down the field, but Alec Fixl batted down a pass in the end zone to put the Blue Bombers in a fourth-and-four from the Tigers 19-yard line. Another incomplete pass turned the ball over on downs.
Palmerton coach Chris Walkowiak started the game with Logan Lesher at quarterback, but went to Zach Buck after the first few possessions stalled. It took a while for Buck to get any offense generated against a Northwestern defense that has allowed just 82 points over their first six games of the season.
The Tigers put together one of their longest drives of the season on their next possession, going 82 yards in 15 plays, capped off by a two-yard touchdown run by Hall for a 28-0 lead early in the third quarter. The ensuing kickoff didn't go well, though, as Stasko made up for his earlier miscue when he returned Bthe kick 94 yards for the Bombers only score of the night.
An on-side kick failed and the Tigers answered their 15-play drive with a quick two-play drive to cover 58 yards when Breininger caught his second TD pass of the game and Northwestern put the game away at 35-7.
"This was absolutely a big win. Our coach told us that we're in playoff games from here on out, because if we want a shot at the Colonial League championship, we have to win these games to give ourselves a shot," said Breininger of his team's win.
Breininger saw extra action because of a foot injury that Cameron Richardson suffered last week against Notre Dame. Richardson is day-to-day and his status for next week at Northern Lehigh is still unknown.
"We knew it would be a little more difficult without him, but we just stepped up and did what we could to help us win," said Breininger.
Snyder said he's happy with how his team has developed over the season.
"Our offensive line again did an outstanding job and opened holes," said Snyder. "And Dylan Snyder played at fullback for the second straight week and he found some holes and he was really blocking like a stud in there for only a sophomore and Harry just did his job and seems to always be running downhill."