Dawgs come up big against Lions
In its PIAA Class 2A first round match-up with District 2 champion Lackawanna Trail Friday night, Northern Lehigh played its best with its back against the wall.
Whether on defense in the red zone, or backed up near their own goal line on offense, the Bulldogs made several key plays in those situations, which helped them come away with a 35-14 victor over the Lions.
Northern Lehigh looked like it was going to put the game away early, getting out to a quick 14-0 advantage.
Two consecutive connections on back-to-back possessions by quarterback Dylan Smoyer and wide receiver Brett Misera gave the Dawgs a two-score lead midway through the first quarter. The first hookup came at the 6:46 mark in the first on a 32-yard pitch and catch, and the second followed a Lackawanna Trail fumble that was recovered by Northern Lehigh’s AJ Jimenez.
The second scoring connection was from 35 yards out and looked like almost the same exact play that went for six on the previous possession.
“We thought coming in we could get some looks that we would like in the passing game, but their team speed was pretty good. It’s not like we were pulling away from people, but we liked the match-up we had with our tight ends,” said Northern Lehigh head coach Joe Tout. “When we’re able to sneak Brett Misera in there at tight end; we thought him or our other tight end Austin Smyth would be able to get open at some point, and Brett was able to get open there early on and Dylan (Smoyer) put the ball right on him.”
However, Lackawanna Trail was able to handle the early adversity and fought back to tie the game at 14-14. A 47-yard explosive run up the right sideline around the two minute mark from Lukas Gumble in the first got the Lions within a score, which is what their deficit would be going into the half.
And early in the third quarter, Trail continued to build momentum, coming up with a huge play on defense, intercepting a Smoyer pass at the Bulldogs 20-yard line, which was picked out of the air by Kolbee Soltis, who took it in for the score with 6:47 remaining in the third.
But as they have throughout the entire season, Northern Lehigh responded with an eight play drive that ended in a Trevor Amorim eight yard touchdown run to give the lead back to the Bulldogs. The score was setup by a 40-yard Matt Frame scamper up the right sideline.
Then the Bulldogs dug in, getting a big defensive stop at the 9:32 mark in the fourth quarter.
The Lions were able to drive it down all the way to the one-yard line, but faced a fourth and one. A quarterback sneak from Owen Lisk ended up short as the surge from the middle of the Northern Lehigh defense kept Lisk from inching over the goal line. That momentum-thwarting stop from the defense was then followed up by perhaps the play of the season from Amorim and the Bulldogs offense.
After getting themselves some breathing room, pushing the ball out to the nine-yard line, Couch Tout decided to roll the dice and go for it on fourth and one from their own nine. The result was Amorim taking a pitch to the left side where he was able to get the first down, but he then broke a few tackles and accelerated down the left sideline and would not be caught, taking it in for the score 91 yards later and putting Northern Lehigh up 14 points with 7:29 to play.
“The kids made that call look good. I thought before that, the goal line stand put the momentum in our favor and we decided to try and build off that,” said Tout. “Fourth and one, if we can’t get that, then we don’t deserve to win and I trust these kids and I know we have a bunch of playmakers that can make those type of plays for us. And Trevor (Amorim), he got the first down and then he fought; he always does a good job of keeping those legs going, and then that was it. Once you’re able to get that one and go up two scores, that’s tough to come back from.”
... Northern Lehigh will go onto face the winner of today’s York Catholic and West Catholic match-up. Those two teams face off at 1 p.m. today.
... The Bulldogs once again went to the ground and pound to finish off the Lions as they averaged almost 7.5 yards per carry and collected 17 first downs. Matt Frame and Amorim both rushed for over 100 yards on the night.