Offense sets records in win
It doesn’t get much better than that.
Northwestern’s offense scored every time it touched the ball Friday night (not counting a final drive in which it was running out the clock) as the Tigers rolled to a 49-0 Colonial League victory over Palmerton.
Most of the damage done by Josh Snyder’s club against the Blue Bombers came through the air, as the head coach made a conscious effort to get the passing game going.
“We scored a touchdown every time we had the ball tonight,” said Snyder, whose team improved to 5-1. “We were seven-for-seven and I don’t know if that’s ever been done at Northwestern before. I know with the teams I’ve had, we’ve never done it. So, there’s not too many negatives to take away from our offensive game tonight.
“We’ve been working hard on (the passing game) in practice, just pitching and catching. We had a couple of drops and bad balls in previous games, but we really concentrated hard this week on it at practice ... We want to be multi-dimensional on offense, and this year we’ve got guys that are capable of catching it and running it, doing both, so it really keeps the defense off-balanced.”
Defenses might not know what to scheme against after watching Friday’s game film.
After relying on the running game most of the season, the Tigers threw for school records of 370 yards and six touchdowns in their latest win.
To make matters worse for opposing defensive coordinators, six different players caught those TD passes.
“We had the ball in a lot of different guys’ hands tonight,” said Snyder. “I’ve been telling them all year we don’t really have any superstars. They share the ball. They block for each other. They’re genuinely excited and happy when other guys succeed.
“(Justin) Rodda is a weapon we have and he’s still learning and still getting better. He’s so doggone explosive. (Ryan) Haas has been limited this year a little bit, but he had two catches and a touchdown. He’s a decent weapon for us. Derek Holmes, we’ve moved him all over the place in his career from center, guard, and we have him at tight end and he had another touchdown catch. You can’t really key on one guy.”
The one guy who calmly distributed the ball, quarterback Deven Bollinger, completed 10-of-14 passes for 268 yards and five of the scores, which is another school record. Backup Josh Gornicz completed the team’s final two throws, adding 102 yards and a score to the offensive explosion.
“We had a great game plan and great play calling,” said Bollinger, who became the school’s all-time leader in passing yards. “Our skills and line worked well together tonight and it showed on the scoreboard.”
Bollinger tossed a screen pass to Nick Henry on Northwestern’s first play from scrimmage. The 47-yard gain helped set up a 2-yard scoring run by Tyler Lobach. On its next possession, Bollinger scrambled for 41 yards before hitting Holmes with a 32-yard touchdown pass. Before the first quarter ended, the junior quarterback hit Rodda on a slant and the sophomore speedster raced 75 yards to the end zone for a 21-0 lead.
The Tigers’ advantage grew to 35-0 by halftime as Bollinger connected with Lobach on a 14-yard hookup and Henry on another screen, this one going for a 36-yard score.
“They’re as good as advertised,” said Palmerton head coach Chris Walkowiak. “They were very well-prepared and they were physical, like we knew they were going to be after watching them on film. They just took it to us on both sides of the ball.”
Haas hauled in a 13-yard TD pass in the third quarter, while Justin Holmes closed out the scoring with a 54-yard catch from Gornicz.
“Everyone, from the outside to the inside, did a great job,” Bollinger said. “We have a big game next week against Southern Lehigh. It’s our Homecoming and they’re coming off a big win last week against Palisades. We know they’re going to be tough to beat.”
Northwestern’s defense also had an excellent game, limiting a talented Palmerton squad to just 107 yards. The defense forced four three-and-outs in the first half.
The Tigers, who have been hurt by penalties most of the season, were only flagged twice.
“I challenged our guys to play their best game of the year in all three phases,” said Snyder. “We’ve been poor on discipline in penalties and we only had a couple tonight. I was happy with our discipline and the way we played.”
Bollinger had plenty of time of throw, as the offensive line turned in another solid performance.
“The line should also get a ton of credit,” said Snyder. “They’ve giving up maybe two or three sacks in six games all year.”
Northwestern had 14 plays of 10-or-more yards with eight of them going for at least 25 yards.