Football falls to Spartans
Senior kicker Hunter Miller set a school record with a 47-yard field goal and the Northwestern offense mounted a late drive toward the end zone, but it wasn’t enough as the Tigers fell to Southern Lehigh 28-21 Friday night.
The Tigers were able to grind out yardage on the ground for much of the game, while Southern Lehigh took advantage of a couple quick strikes for scores.
The Spartans (7-1) offense twice had one-play drives in the second quarter, with Mike Sisselberger going 80 yards from scrimmage and two drives later, Logan Edmond found Nate Darby down the right side of the field for a 43-yard strike as Southern Lehigh took a pretty commanding 21-3 lead over the Tigers.
Miller had drilled the field goal to give Northwestern (3-5) a temporary 3-0 lead in the first quarter before Southern Lehigh started firing up the offense. Edmond hit Eli Price for 58 yards and a touchdown to put the Spartans up 7-3 just 1:30 after Miller’s school record kick. The previous record was 45 yards set by Tommy Camano in 1996.
With Phil Dangello nursing a sore ankle and unable to play, freshman Nick Henry took over the role and executed it well. Henry, who missed time earlier in the season with a shoulder injury, has been playing some wildcat offense on the JV squad.
“He’s been tearing things up with the JV team since he’s been healthy, and he has some experience in that role, so we thought we would give him a look and it turned out that he did a really nice job for us,” said Northwestern head coach Josh Snyder. “We think pretty highly of him and it was good to see how well he played tonight in a tough situation.”
The addition of what Dangello referred to last week as the “ground and pound offense” has helped Northwestern considerably. Their team total of 161 yards rushing was their highest total of the season, besting the previous mark of 134 yards back in week five against Pen Argyl.
Last week, Dangello gained 88 yards on the ground, his highest number of the season. Henry’s 96 yards were the closest Northwestern has come to having a 100-yard rusher this year.
Miller missed on a couple of field goal attempts and there was a dropped ball in the end zone in the first half that left Northwestern trailing 21-3 at the break.
Northwestern gained early momentum in the second half when they shut down the Spartans’ first drive of the half and then pieced together a nearly four-minute drive covering 52 yards, capping it with a Deven Bollinger pass to Ryan Haas followed by Jayden Allen running the ball for the two-point conversion. On its next drive, Northwestern used a short punt by Southern Lehigh to start at the Spartans 48 and four-minutes later, Allen rushed around the left side of the line for a five-yard touchdown run making it 21-18.
“I thought we controlled the tempo of the game pretty well,” said Snyder. “We kind of got on the offensive line pretty hard this week, because averaging just 64 yards rushing per game isn’t what we’re all about, so it was good to get back to Northwestern style of football tonight.”
Just as it looked like all of the momentum had swung Northwestern’s way, Edmond came through again for Southern Lehigh, hitting Price on a 10-yard route to go up 28-18. The Tigers summoned momentum back to their sideline when Miller hit on a 37-yard field goal to make it a one score game at 28-21.
Looking to tie the game, Northwestern took over on downs at their own 34-yard line with 1:36 left to play. Bollinger completed three quick passes, including a 27-yard toss to Caleb Clymer, and a Southern Lehigh penalty put the Tigers on the Southern Lehigh 14. Allen rushed the ball down to the eight, but Bollinger was then caught in the backfield to push Northwestern back to the 16 for a fourth-and-12.
Bollinger looked to the end zone, but wasn’t able to find an open receiver. Southern Lehigh took over and simply knelt down to run out the clock.