Tigers knock off Panthers
For much of the season, Northwestern football head coach Josh Snyder had been drilling into his team the need to start games stronger rather than waiting until late in the game to start mounting some offense.
The Tigers came out with a quick start against Pen Argyl, but couldn’t hang on and wound up with a loss. Against previously undefeated Saucon Valley though, they got off to the fastest start possible when Trevor Cunningham returned the opening kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown. From there, the Tigers went on to take a 15-6 win over the Panthers (5-1).
“We’ve preached to these guys about coming out on fire and taking it to teams, because we haven’t always done that,” said Snyder. “There’s no better way to do that than to do what Trevor did on that play. He just made a heck of a run and that was really big for us.”
Cunningham charged down the right side of the rain-soaked field, breaking several tackles and picking up some blocking along the way, to put his team up 7-0 before Saucon Valley got to run a play.
Cunningham, who Snyder calls the best player in the Colonial League, had his biggest game of the season. Cunningham picked off Saucon Valley’s Brandon Holub not once, but twice. The first came in the first quarter when Holub threw into the end zone, but Cunningham made a leaping grab and fell backward, holding on to the ball to end a scoring threat from the Panthers. Cunningham picked off Holub again in the fourth quarter on a fourth-and-two play and gave Northwestern the ball at their own 40-yard line.
“After last week, we really needed a big game to pick us up,” said Cunningham. “I wanted to do something to stop the drive [in the first quarter] and the ball was overthrown and I was able to go up and pull it down.”
To their credit, the Panthers bounced right back to go 68 yards in just over two minutes, with Zach Petiet rushing 18 yards to cap the drive. Kicker Josh Snead missed the extra point, which Northwestern would look to seize upon a little later in the game.
Petiet was the only player that didn’t look slowed by the soggy field conditions, rushing for 170 yards in the game.
Halfway through the first quarter, a bad snap on a punt attempt by the Panthers gave Northwestern a first-and-goal at the Panthers’ 10-yard line. Phil Dangello carried the ball twice out of the wildcat formation, going two-yards on the second carry to put Northwestern up 13-6. That’s when Snyder decided to make the Panthers pay for the missed extra point and went for the two-point conversion. Deven Bollinger hit Dangello to convert the two-point play and the Tigers extended their lead to 15-6.
Not only was Saucon Valley undefeated this season, but they had won 20 straight Colonial League contests. The last time Saucon Valley lost a regular season game came on September 26, 2014, which was also the last time they played in New Tripoli, suffering a 39-14 loss to the Tigers.