Northwestern rolls over Lehighton
On the third play of Friday night’s Lehighton-Northwestern football game, the Indians’ Dylan Moyer ran 52 yards to the Northwestern two-yard line.
But Lehighton couldn’t punch the ball in for a score and then picked up just nine more yards rushing the rest of the game as the Tigers defense tightened and shut out the Indians 49-0.
Moyer started his run through the middle of the line and then cut down the left sideline before Eli Zimmerman brought him down just short of the goal. The play and the three following plays set the tone for Northwestern (5-0).
The Tigers took the ball from there and went 97 yards on eight plays to open the scoring when Shane Leh covered the final 47 yards with a run down the right side and into the end zone.
“I hadn’t done much running until tonight,” Leh said. “I think we have had a good mix of running and passing and we’re putting in some different things every week, so it’s been a lot of fun.”
On the next drive, Leh passed to Landon Matson for nine yards and then found Devon Hildebrand down the right side for a 33-yard touchdown strike after Lehighton turned the ball over on downs.
Up 13-0 there was a scary moment when Mason Bollinger took a hard hit after making a catch and was down on the turf for some time before walking gingerly off the field.
Three plays later, Leh hit Dalton Clymer for a 10-yard TD pass and Clymer then ran into the end zone on the conversion to make good on an extra point that was missed on the previous score and put Northwestern up 21-0 by the end of the first quarter.
“I’m getting more confident every week,” said Leh of his first season as the team’s primary quarterback. “The line and the guys around me are great and they have really helped me out a lot.”
After making the early touchdown saving tackle and picking off a pass from O’Donnell early in the second quarter, Zimmerman came back on offense and ran for a total of 42 yards including an 18-yard jaunt in which he ran over a defender to get down to the Lehighton 30-yard line on a third-and-two play. He followed that up with a 21-yard run and then a three-yard dash into the end zone.
For the second time in the game, Northwestern’s defense forced a turnover on downs at their own 36 and three plays later, Bollinger stepped in at quarterback and hit Devon Hildebrand for a 52-yard touchdown pass as the Tigers went up 35-0.
The defense added the next score for Northwestern when Hildebrand picked off a pass by O’Donnell and ran 77 yards as time ran out to end the first half. Seth Kern hit the extra point and the Tigers were up 42-0 at the half.
Coach Josh Snyder gave the starters one final drive to open the second half and Clymer made the most of it, carrying the ball four straight plays for a total of 37 yards and Zimmerman added an 18-yard run, but the drive was capped by a pair of passes by Leh, the second to Zimmerman in the end zone to go up 49-0.
“We played well on both sides of the ball and I was really happy with what we did defensively,” Snyder said. “Offensively, I am really happy with our mix of passes and runs. It’s nice to be able to call some pass plays and not have to rely solely on coming up with running plays to gain yards. It gives us another dimension.”
The loss dropped Lehighton to 2-3 on the season. The Indians host Blue Mountain next week.
REMEMBRANCE ... Many of the spectators were dressed in orange and the players had a No. 4 decal on their helmets in remembrance of Max Engle, a Jersey Shore football player who passed away a week ago after collapsing on the field. Engle’s death and a couple of other severe injuries to players this season have raised concerns about safety. “It’s unfathomable really,” said Snyder. “Thinking about it this week and thinking about the orange, sometimes it’s tough for a kid to understand the magnitude of what happened. I told them that wearing orange is not about how we look, we’re wearing it for a person. A young man passed away playing this game that you all played growing in and that we love.”