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Bulldogs run away from PG

PINE GROVE - Playing perhaps its best game of the season, Northern Lehigh routed Pine Grove, 45-20 on Saturday night.

After starting the season 0-2, Northern Lehigh has won back-to-back games - and with six weekends still left to play, there’s suddenly an afterglow for this band of Bulldogs.

A huge part of Northern Lehigh’s upswing is a terrific ground game that is spearheaded by sophomore Grady Newhard and Jack Tosh.

Newhard looked more like a seasoned vet than a first-year starter as he got the call 24 times and responded with a career-high 243 yards rushing, including touchdown runs of 54 and 30 yards.

Tosh - one of the leftovers from last season’s District 11 Class 1A championship and state semifinal team - also belted out a pair of touchdown runs, scoring from one-yard out and 35-yards out, while piling up 116 yards rushing on 13 touches.

That led head coach Joe Tout to smile about the way his team may be finding a season that still has a lot of promise.

“Jack and Grady are starting to grow. Jack’s turning into a big blocker,” Tout said. “We had a tough opening (to the season), but now we’re turning into a good team.

“We’re starting a freshman quarterback in Garrett Smoyer, and he’s grown leaps and bounds for us.”

After a first-quarter interception by Pine Grove’s Lane Lehman that he returned 33 yards for a touchdown, Smoyer bounced back with a yeoman performance, directing the team to seven scoring drives on the night.

“He’s going to be a good one, that’s why we went with him (after junior Nate Oswald suffered a season-ending injury in the preseason),” Tout said. “Based on what he did in camp and what he does every day at practice, he’s earned the position and continues to get better every day.”

The Bulldogs barked loud and clear following the early Pine Grove score.

They chunked their way down the field on a 6-play, 79-yard march capped by Tosh’s 1-yard plow into the end zone for a 7-7 tie. During the march, Newhard carried four times, including a 34-yarder, to set up Tosh’s final lug.

Northern Lehigh’s improvement the last couple of weeks has coincided with its improvement up front.

“We’re getting better,” Tout said about the play of Brody Dye, Sam Frame, Cyrus Kinchen, Landon Moll and Jackson VanNorman along the offensive line - a unit that produced a statement game against the Cardinals with a total of 424 yards on the ground.

Newhard bolted 54 yards to the end zone for a 13-7 lead, before freshman Chris Frame broke free for a pair of long touchdowns of 46 and 31 yards to suddenly turn a tight affair into a 26-7 Bulldog lead at halftime.

Pine Grove got a three-yard TD run by Lehman to open the second half, but Northern Lehigh answered as Tosh ran 35 yards for his second score of the game to make it 31-14.

Another Lehman score gave the Cardinals hope early in the fourth quarter, but the Bulldogs closed the door when Bailey Smith scored from two yards out and Newhard capped his big night with a 30-yard TD run.

JUNKYARD DAWGS … Northern Lehigh’s defense has also been improving as the season goes on. Against the Cardinals, the Bulldogs gave up a paltry 23 yards rushing.

ROLL DAWGS ROLL … The Bulldogs were impressive rushing the ball, and anytime a team can pile up nearly 500 yards, look no further than the offensive line. As Tout belted out addressing his team after the game, ‘How about them Dawgs!’

FRAMING IT UP … The Bulldogs have two Frames on the team in Chris and Sam, and they both had a say in the game. In addition to Chris scoring two touchdowns and picking off a pass, Sam was part of the offensive line that controlled play the entire game.

HE SAID IT … Among the players Tout signaled out after the game were Tosh, Sam Frame, VanNorman, Dye, Moll, Bailey Smith and Chase Moffitt.