Tigers bounce back with win
There was plenty of blame to go around when Northwestern lost to Palisades a couple weeks ago. Sophomore Anthony Colucci had a particularly tough game, getting flagged for two personal foul calls that hurt the Tigers in the game and got Colucci in coach Josh Snyder’s doghouse heading into the game with Wilson.
With Colucci watching from the sidelines for the first quarter, he was well aware that he had to contribute when he got his chance and he came up big for Northwestern in a 37-7 win over Wilson last Friday night.
Colucci recovered a fumbled kick-off at the Wilson 20-yard line and later recovered a bad snap from center on a punt attempt that gave the Tigers the ball at the Wilson three-yard line. The two big plays got Snyder’s attention and earned Colucci the respect of his coach.
“He had a rough game last week, and he responded in a big way,” said Snyder. “He worked his way back in and did everything we asked him to and battled back. He’s a very talented player and our team feeds off of hard-nosed play, and he’s sort of a throwback kid. He’s headed in the right direction.”
Like the rest of the team, Colucci had a tough week in practice leading up to the game against Wilson, as the coaches looked to repair issues that had been plaguing the team through its first three games.
Things like missed assignments, penalties and a bunch of mistakes, both mental and physical, were keeping Northwestern from looking like a team to beat in the Colonial League.
Against Wilson, the team responded, cutting its penalties back to an acceptable number and coming out strong after getting off to sluggish starts in earlier games.
“They [the coaches] didn’t let up on us this week,” Colucci said. “We were making a lot of mistakes and just weren’t responding and they let us know that wasn’t acceptable. It was a tough week in practice, but I think it was what we needed.”
Northwestern came out sharp and didn’t let up. After shutting down Wilson on a three-and-out on the Warrios’ first possession, the Tigers had a short field to work with and Deven Bollinger capped a 38-yard drive with a 19-yard touchdown pass to Trevor Cunningham. On the Tigers second drive Bollinger moved his team 70 yards on just six plays to go up 14-0.
Bollinger later hit Caleb Clymer and Cunningham with touchdown passes and the team converted back-to-back two-point conversions to put Northwestern up 30-0.
After Colucci recovered the bad snap, it took four plays, but Northwestern punched the ball in from there to move to a 37-0 lead just prior to the end of the second quarter.
“I just fly down the field and look for the ball,” said Colucci. “I love playing football, whether it’s offense, defense, special teams, just anywhere that I can help.”
A team that at times seemed undisciplined through the first three weeks of the season looked much improved in week four.
Penalties had been a major concern for Snyder, but his team committed just three penalties for a total of 15 yards, their lowest totals of the season.
The Tigers finished the night with 291 yards of total offense, compared to just 97 for Wilson, most of which came in the second-half. At halftime, Northwestern’s advantage in total offense stood at stood at 227-7.
Snyder had his regulars handle the first drive of the second half, but then went with younger, reserve players for the rest of the game to give them some varsity playing time. Running back Jayden Allen, a freshman, carried the ball six times for 33 yards. Fellow freshman Nathan Goodolf carried the ball once as did sophomore Tyler Slifer. Sophomore quarterback Josh Gornicz took over for Bollinger at quarterback in the third quarter.