Tigers hold off Rough Riders
For a team that came into the season finale 1-8 and was just looking to finish out its season, the Catasauqua Rough Riders got off to an impressive start against Northwestern but couldn’t keep the momentum going. Eventually, the Tigers wore them down in a wild 61-27 game where in the first 3:32 of the game there were just eight plays from scrimmage, but 28 points as the two teams battled to a 14-14 tie at that point.
Catasauqua’s Wilquon Clemens settled under the opening kick-off and returned it to near the 40-yard line before the ball popped out when he was hit. The Tigers recovered the ball and made quick work of their first drive when Deven Bollinger connected with Derek Holmes to give Northwestern (8-2) an early 7-0 lead.
Clemens atoned for the mistake and ran the ensuing kick-off back 85 yards to even the score.
The Rough Riders kick-off brought more excitement as they successfully pulled off an on-side kick to open a drive at the Tigers’ 49-yard line. On the second play of the drive, quarterback Andrew Martinez rushed 48 yards and Catasauqua had a 14-7 lead.
“I could kind of tell when we were warming up that the intensity wasn’t quite there,” said coach Josh Snyder. “These kids are human and they looked at the records and weren’t really fired up and it showed early on.”
A second attempt at an on-side kick didn’t go as well, and the Tigers opened their drive with a short field and needed just three plays to move 44 yards to tie the score.
Northwestern held a 28-14 lead by the end of the first quarter and flexed its muscles in the second quarter. On the opening drive of the second quarter, Bollinger connected on a smooth 21-yard pass to Nick Henry that brought the Tigers down to the Catasauqua one-yard line. Henry looked to plunge in on the next play, but was stopped, leaving Snyder to open the playbook to a play that he pulled out the previous week against Northern Lehigh that didn’t work.
The plan was a handoff to lineman Hayden Bobbyn, who lined up in the backfield. A week earlier, he was thrown for a loss, but this time the play worked perfectly and he bowled his way straight ahead to make it 35-14 in favor of Northwestern.
The Roughies weren’t quite finished as they answered right back with a four-play, 66-yard drive that culminated with Martinez hitting Clemens on a 44-yard connection as the big play of the drive. The connection to Clemens was the only completion of the night for Martinez. On the next play, Martinez used his feet to cover 15 yards into the end zone to make it 35-21.
Bollinger wrapped up the second quarter with a 54-yard TD pass to Justin Rodda and a 47-yard TD pass to Paul Huff, who broke numerous tackles and dragged a defender into the end zone to put Northwestern up 55-21 at the half. On the night, Bollinger threw for 170 yards four touchdowns.
Josh Gornicz replaced Bollinger at quarterback in the second half and led Northwestern on a seven-play drive that ate up 3:26 of the third quarter. Gornicz, a senior, hit Rodda, who tip-toed just in front of the back line of the end zone for the touchdown.
“It was good to see Josh get some time and get a touchdown pass tonight,” said Snyder. “He’s a senior and doesn’t get to play, but he does everything you can ask. He’s sending in signals, running the scout team in practice and works just as hard as anybody.”
The 61 points by Northwestern marked the first time they’ve cracked the 50-point mark since a 50-21 win over Palmerton on October 17, 2014. For Catasauqua, the 61 points were just shy of the 63 that they gave up last week in a 63-7 loss to Southern Lehigh. On two other occasions this season, they allowed 50 or more points in a game.