Tigers drop early-season showdown
GREEN POND — While the score wound up a respectable 42-35, it didn’t tell the complete story of Northwestern Lehigh’s opening night loss to Notre Dame.
Northwestern needed a late game rally as it attempted to overcome six turnovers – three fumbles and three interceptions – against one of the better teams in the Colonial League.
“I thought we came out a little flat,” said Northwestern coach Josh Snyder. “We just couldn’t get things in sync and just were letting them dictate things a little. We knew their defensive ends were going to be tough and they gave us some problems, especially early.”
The Crusaders went against the grain and after winning the toss, elected to receive to open the game and it turned out to be the right choice. Christian Greggo took the opening kick and weaved his way through white jerseys to go 90 yards for a quick Notre Dame strike.
After Northwestern’s second lost fumble of the night late in the first quarter, Notre Dame needed just two plays to go 47 yards and move out to a 14-0 lead.
It would be the defense that got the scoring started for the Tigers when Wyatt Ledeboer picked off a Collin Quintano pass and raced 40 yards into the end zone to cut the Crusaders lead in half. Quintano, starting his first varsity games as a sophomore, finished the night with 293 yards passing, completing 25 of his 36 passes.
Every time that Northwestern looked to gain some momentum, Notre Dame would come right back to score.
With just :54 left in the first half, Quintano struck with a nine-yard TD toss to Greggo to make the score 28-14.
In the second half, it looked like Northwestern was going to take command early when it went 73 yards and cut into the Notre Dame lead. Bollinger had a 17-yard run and then capped the drive with a three-yard jaunt into the end zone, making it a one touchdown game.
Again, Notre Dame didn’t allow the momentum to stay with the Tigers for long. On their next possession, it went 76 yards with Quintano hitting Greggo on an 18-yard pass.
“You have to hand it to them because they never let us get much going. They always found a way, whether it was forcing a turnover or getting into the end zone, to stop our momentum,” said Snyder. “On the one interception, if the ball was a couple inches higher, it goes from being their ball to being a touchdown for us and it makes a big difference.”
The Crusaders seemed to put things away on a 15-yard run by Mike Frauen with 1:50 left in the third quarter. The touchdown put Notre Dame up 42-21. This time, it was Northwestern that killed the momentum, with a 65-yard drive that was ended when Henry went in from five yards out on the first play of the fourth quarter.
This time, Northwestern forced a punt, but Bollinger was picked-off at the Crusaders 13-yard line to stop a drive that would have made it a one-score game. Bollinger was also intercepted on the next Northwestern drive and a fumble ruined another drive that took them down to the Notre Dame 15 with just 3:19 left to play. The Tigers got the ball back and Bollinger completed three quick passes to take his team 45 yards and make it 42-35.
The Tigers attempted an onside kick, but Notre Dame recovered and ran out the clock.
“We couldn’t take a lot of positives out of this one other than the fact that we fought our way back and didn’t lay down late in the game,” said Snyder. “Other than that, we missed a lot of opportunities and handed them a lot of opportunities throughout the game. We’ve got to cut down on the mistakes going forward and that’s what we’ll work on.”
SHORT WEEK ... Northwestern has one less day to lick its wounds because their home opener — where it will christen the new stadium turf and salute the 1995 team — is coming up on Thursday against Salisbury at Tiger Stadium.
BANGED UP ... Northwestern was without Justin Holmes and Justin Rodda only returned to practice on Thursday before playing in the game against Notre Dame. Wide receiver Paul Huff was banged up late in the game, but walked off on his own power.