For a while, it seemed like both Northwestern and Southern Lehigh were trying to give the other team a victory, but in the end, the Spartans came away with a 13-7 win over Northwestern.
"It was one of those where you're going to watch the film and say, 'how in the heck did we lose this football game,' but the penalties and the turnovers always come back to hurt you," said Northwestern coach Josh Snyder.
The two teams combined to turn the ball over seven times and were called for a combined 17 penalties for a total of 145 yards. For both teams, it seemed like just when they would put together a drive, either a penalty or turnover would derail the effort.
Southern Lehigh (3-1) came out with a little trickery when Tom Dex, starting in place of injured quarterback Travis Edmond, pitched to Jacob Delpriore who executed a perfect flea-flicker and hit Trent Silfies down the sideline for 43 yards. That set up the first score of the game when Dex kept the ball and made it through the Northwestern line from one yard out to give the Spartans the lead.
Northwestern quarterback Frank Dangello was picked off deep in Tiger territory to set up the next Southern Lehigh score. The Spartans went 19 yards for the touchdown with Dex again keeping the ball and driving into the end zone for a 13-0 lead.
On the ensuing drive, Northwestern started at its own 33-yard line. Dangello hit Cam Richardson on a 19-yard pass to start the drive. Dangello and Richardson again hooked up, this time on a 30-yard strike, that put the Tigers in the end zone and cut the Southern Lehigh lead to 13-7.
Northwestern (2-2) used their no-huddle offense that they debuted against Wilson last week, but weren't as crisp in the execution as they were against the Warriors.
"It was a cat-and-mouse game going on. They would line up and then they would stunt and change and we would tell them to get into something else, so Xs and Os wise, it was a fun game on both sides of the ball," explained Snyder.
The Spartans drove down the field late in the fourth quarter and Northwestern used timeouts to try to get the ball back, but a six-yard run by Ricci gave Southern Lehigh a first down and they ran out the clock.
"We're a way better football team than we were a year ago, mentally and physically, but when it comes down to having the football down six with four or five minutes left in the game and you're on a drive, you've got to convert; you've got to find a way to win the football game and the only way to learn how to win is by winning," said Snyder. "It's one of those things you can't practice. You can pump the kids up and get them prepared, but it's really up to them on the field."
Snyder thought his team may have played well enough to win, but their mistakes cost them a chance to reach the .500 mark on the season.
"It's a shame - and I don't mean any disrespect to Southern Lehigh or their coaches but for four quarters, we outplayed them; in the trenches, physically, getting the ball to our athletes, but you can't win football games turning the ball over five times."