Northwestern pulls away from NL
Northern Lehigh’s Mason Seiler tries to shake off Northwestern’s Ryan Haas during Friday night’s game. BOB FORD/TIMES NEWS
Northwestern head coach Josh Snyder knew full well that Northern Lehigh would present a tough challenge for his Tigers in the penultimate week of the regular season.
For the first half, the Bulldogs fought tooth and nail with the heavily favored Northwestern squad.
However, in the second half, the Tiger defense took charge, limiting Northern Lehigh to zero points, two first downs, and 60 yards of total offense.
That effort stymied the Bulldogs’ upset hopes and helped Northwestern nab a 35-14 Colonial League win.
“I’m really proud of our defensive unit and the coaches for getting a shutout in the second half,” Snyder said. “It’s always a good game between us and Northern Lehigh and I told the kids all week that I knew we were going to get their best effort and we did.
“But we stood up to the challenge and we’re glad to get the win.”
In the early-going, the Bulldogs grabbed the lead as Zach Long pushed in from the one for the first score of the evening.
Phil DeAngelo responded with a one-yard TD run of his own to knot it up, before the ‘Dawgs pushed another one across as Mason Seiler grabbed a five-yard score for the 14-7 lead with 6:38 left before half.
“With them having an 0-8 season thus far, we knew they were going to come out firing and they came out really hard on us,” DeAngelo said.
Snyder added, “We knew right out of the gates that they were going to come at us, guns blazing. They had nothing to lose.”
However, the Tigers (4-5) responded and quickly, as their ensuing possession went 65 yards in 10 plays for another DeAngelo scoring trot to knot things up at 14-14. Northwestern then followed up with a quick defensive stop and tacked on a 30-yard field goal by Hunter Miller for the halftime advantage.
“I thought a big key for us was that stretch, where we tied it up at 14, got a stop, forced them to punt, and then take it down, and get a field goal to go up at halftime,” Snyder said.
At the intermission, Northern Lehigh head coach Joe Tout recalled a familiar situation, as his team has had issues with stringing together four strong frames of play.
“That’s been our year,” said Tout. “Slow third quarters and not being consistent, We told our kids at halftime to not be content. We needed to play a complete game and we just didn’t do that.
“Give Northwestern credit. They fought in the second half, they battled and their kids made plays.”
The Tigers produced points on their first two drives of the second half, as freshman Nick Henry scored his first varsity touchdown, and Miller added an identical 30-yard field goal for the 27-14 lead early in the fourth.
“Coming off a tough loss last week (to Southern Lehigh), it was huge for us to step up tonight,” DeAngelo said. “Once we weathered the storm, we came through with a couple touchdown runs from a few different people and that was big.”
MANY FACES ... The Northwestern rushing attack was difficult to stop as seven different players had carries in the game and all seven produced at different points throughout. The wide range of runners produced 192 yards of offense on 39 carries, and scored all three TDs on the ground.
WHAT’S NEXT? ... Northern Lehigh tangles at Palmerton in the final week of the regular season, while Northwestern hosts Catasauqua.