Breininger has big night in win over Bullldogs
Not only is the meeting between Northern Lehigh and Northwestern a big rivalry for the two schools, it's now got extra meaning behind it. The rivalry is now known as "Bo and Brett's Mountain Road Rumble" and has a trophy that goes to the winner. That trophy will spend the next year as the property of the Tigers, who downed Northern Lehigh 42-6. The win clinched a spot in the District 11 playoffs for Northwestern (8-1).
The newly-named rivalry pays homage to both Bo Tkach, who played at Northern Lehigh, and Brett Snyder, who played at Northwestern. Tkach committed suicide in 2007 after a battle with depression and obsessive compulsive disorder. Snyder was diagnosed with ALS [Lou Gehrig's Disease] in 2002. Mountain Road is the main thoroughfare that connects the two schools. Players from Northwestern also wore blue spats on one ankle to recognize the Brett Snyder Foundation and orange on the other to recognize the Bo Tkach Under the Hat and Helmet Foundation.
Coach Josh Snyder, who is Brett's brother and also played high school football at Northwestern, has always enjoyed the rivalry, which has added meaning with the inclusion of the two charities.
"Playing at Northwestern and growing up in the area, I've been around it my whole life," said Snyder. "Then, in the last couple of years, with my brother and ALS and coach Tkach and adding that with the Under The Hat and Helmet Foundation, sometimes, life is bigger than sports. When you can bring that in around young people, so they can be touched by it, you want to do it," said Snyder. "We're close. We're right down the road and this one's not just for a notch in the win-loss column, but it's also for bragging rights and now, they add the trophy. We're going to hang onto that sucker for a year."
The game seemed like Taylor Breininger Night. The senior came up with a 90-yard kick-off return for a touchdown and a 74-yard fumble return for a touchdown as just part of his last regular season game on his home field. Breininger also caught a two-yard touchdown pass and ran for a two-point conversion in the win.
"He's a big play waiting to happen," said Snyder. "He's a special football player. He just has a knack for "He's a special football player. He just has a knack for making the big play. We always know that Taylor's going to make a big play and he seems to always dig one out, whether it be a fumble recovery, a special teams play or an interception and that's what special players do."
Breininger's fumble recovery was more of a grand theft than it was a fumble recovery. Northern Lehigh quarterback Floyd Snyder ran with the ball and was quickly surrounded by a gang of Northwestern players. Breininger wrestled the ball away then sprinted out of the pack for the end zone. The stolen ball trick has become somewhat of a specialty for Breininger this season.
"Against Southern Lehigh, he did the same thing," said Snyder. "He kind of gets in there on the pile and rips it right out. I've never seen it this many times in my life, let alone a kid doing it multiple times in a season. He's sort of a ball-hawk and like I said, a big play waiting to happen. I'm glad to have him on our team, I know that."
For his part, Breininger used his big game to joke with teammate Cam Richardson, who earlier this season set a school record by scoring a touchdown on a reception, a run and a pass in a single game.
"I joked with Cam and said 'so, is this what it feels like to be you, scoring every which way?,'" said Breininger, a senior wide receiver and linebacker. "It was a great overall team performance. Our line did a great job up front. Our special teams on the kick return gave a huge hole for me. It was just a great overall job for our team."
One of the keys for Northwestern was not giving Northern Lehigh (5-4) good starting field position, which came down to kicker Brandon Miller putting all seven of his kick offs through the end zone and forcing the Bulldogs (5-4) to open their drives on their own 20-yard line. One of his kick offs went from the 50-yard line thanks to a Northern Lehigh penalty and Miller drove it through the goal posts.
Quarterback Frank Dangello also had a strong game, completing 11 of 14 passes for 179 yards. He also turned several plays that seemed destined for a loss into positive yardage, including finding Harry Hall for a 54-yard pass reception after scrambling well behind the line of scrimmage.