Pen Argyl defense stifles No. Lehigh
NANCY SCHOLZ/Special to THE TIMES NEWS Northern Lehigh's C.J. Young (20) looks for running room as the Pen Argyl defense closes in.
PEN ARGYL - Throughout the first five games of the 2013 season, Pen Argyl has had arguably the best defense in the Colonial League, allowing just over 200 yards per game.
On Saturday afternoon against Northern Lehigh, the Green Knights' offensive prowess was on full display.
Pen Argyl used big plays through the air and a stifling defense to defeat the Bulldogs 35-2 in critical Colonial League contest.
Coming off a loss to Southern Lehigh and facing an undermanned Northern Lehigh (1-5) squad, Pen Argyl (4-2) coach Paul Reduzzi made sure his team wasn't looking ahead to this Friday's showdown against undefeated Catasauqua.
"These Northern Lehigh kids don't put on a uniform just to come out and play football; they expect to be successful," Reduzzi said. "I think that kept it from being a trap game where we were going to overlook it. There's too much good football tradition there."
Pen Argyl opened the scoring with an 11-play drive that was capped off by Ryan Lobb's two-yard plunge to give the Green Knights a 7-0 lead with 2:52 left in the first quarter.
While the ground attack was effective on the opening drive, Reduzzi and his staff felt the team could exploit mismatches by going to the air, particularly to wide receiver Nick Oyer, who came into the contest as the Green Knights leading receiver with 189 yards and three scores.
The coach's intuition paid off in a big way for Oyer and Pen Argyl's offense.
The senior receiver caught TD passes of 62, 50 and 57-yards in the first half as the Green Knights built up a 28-0 lead at the intermission.
Pen Argyl quarterback Ryan Hunt and Oyer connected again for 63 yards and a touchdown on the first play of the second half for a 35-point cushion.
Oyer finished with five catches for 251-yards and four scores, breaking the school record for receiving yards in a game.
"We were just able to isolate on him," Reduzzi said of Oyer. "They (Northern Lehigh) were in their typical defense and it gave us a couple of things to work with.
"Our routes have become shorter because we've had to get rid of the football a little quicker and the offensive line did a nice job. They put a lot of hours in these past few weeks and it paid off today."
Oyer was quick to praise his quarterback when speaking about the record-setting performance.
"A lot of the credit definitely has to go to Ryan (Hunt)," Oyer said. "He made perfect passes and they were right on target."
Unlike the potent attack Pen Argyl's offense, Northern Lehigh struggled to move the ball in the contest, gaining 148 yards, all of which came on the ground. Nate Farber broke off a 54-yard run in the third quarter and led the Bulldogs with 104-yards rushing,
Taz McNair started at quarterback for Northern Lehigh in place of the injured Chance DeLong and shared snaps under center with Farber throughout the contest, with neither having success through the air.
Northern Lehigh coach Joe Tout knows injuries are a part of the game and won't blame his team's performance on being shorthanded.
"We have a group of young kids that we really like, but it's a shame that a lot of them are injured," Tout said. "But right now, with our older kids, I have to find something because they're just not responding to us at all."
The Bulldogs got on the board with a safety after Pen Argyl botched a snap at its own six-yard line with 6:34 remaining in the fourth quarter.