Tigers keep District hopes alive
For the second week in a row, the Northwestern Tigers defense had to figure out where the snap from center was going to wind up. Bangor used snaps to quarterbacks Jyri Davis and Shawn Green and running back Phil Vass to keep the Tigers defense guessing, but they didn't fool them enough as Northwestern beat the Slaters 29-22.
Northwestern needed the win to keep their District 11 playoff hopes alive after a costly 28-13 loss to Pen Argyl last week. With one game remaining, the Tigers head to Catasauqua next week needing a win to reach districts. The win against Bangor did guarantee Northwestern of playing in the Eastern Conference playoffs, but that's not the goal that the Tigers are hoping to reach.
"Big game next week. A win tonight got us into the Eastern Conference, but a win next week and we're back in districts; huge game next week," said junior quarterback Frank Dangello, who set a school record with his 13th touchdown pass of the season when he hit Dylan Snyder deep down the middle. Snyder had to readjust his route to make the catch, but pulled in the ball and sprinted for the end zone.
"It feels good, but it's a team thing. It's our line, it's our receivers. The only reason I had that touchdown pass was because of Dylan, that was a great play by him," explained Dangello.
In the first-half, the game was primarily a matter of Vass and Northwestern quarterback Frank Dangello trading touchdown runs as each ran for touchdowns, taking the score to 14-14 at the half. Vass's two TD runs were for a total of 70 yards, while Dangello had two scores for a grand total of five yards rushing going into half-time. While the discrepancy in touchdown runs sounds overwhelming, the Slaters outgained the Tigers 169-141 in total offensive yards in the first-half. Northwestern used a dominating second-half offensive performance to pick up a total of 352 yards compared to the 295 yards compiled by Bangor.
While both teams relied heavily on the ground game, Bangor relied exclusively on running the ball, with Davis and Green not attempting a single pass. Harry Hall continued his assault on Colonial League defenses with 113 yards rushing, putting him over the 1,000 yard mark in his sophomore season.
"It means a lot [to reach 1,000 yards]. My linemen press forward every down. We've talked about it the last few days," said Hall of reaching the milestone.
Vass finished the night with 242 yards rushing and three touchdowns on 19 carries, which also put him over the 1,000 yard mark on the season for Bangor.
It's ironic that two underclassmen, Dangello and Hall, would reach milestones on Senior Night at Tiger Stadium. For coach Josh Snyder though, the seniors have continued to be a backbone of his team this season.
"Those guys will be the first to tell you that they don't get those numbers without our offensive line and we've got some seniors there who really anchor things for us. Jake Najarian has been a two-year starter at center and he calls all of our protections and snap counts and we never have a bad snap. Mack Storm has been fighting through an ankle injury the last three weeks, so talk about heart, talk about leadership and it starts for us with our seniors," believes Snyder.
It helped Northwestern that they got Cam Richardson back full-time from a foot injury and he was able to contribute offensively. The bad news is that senior Justin Betz went out with a knee injury in the first-half and spent the rest of the game patrolling the sideline on crutches.
"He'll probably be out for the rest of the year, that's just preliminarily," reported Snyder. "His knee swelled up and it's a shame, because he unquestionably, is the heart and soul of our defense. Throughout the year, he's unwavering, he's there every day at practice and he makes all of the defensive calls."