Tigers pull off New Tripoli Special
Football fans outside of New Tripoli might not know it, but the play that helped the Eagles win Super Bowl 52 and came to be known as The Philly Special was originally the New Tripoli Special. Northwestern varsity football head coach Josh Snyder had used the play in the past, prior to Super Bowl 52. He used it again Saturday night in a district playoff game against Allentown Central Catholic and it worked to perfection as part of Northwestern’s 50-13 win over the Vikings.
The win sends Northwestern into the district semifinals and a rematch with Saucon Valley, who the Tigers knocked from the ranks of the undefeated during the regular season.
On their first possession of the district playoffs, Northwestern looked to establish the run, but quarterback Deven Bollinger was shutout on his first three carries of the game. He had a lot more success with the passing game and went three-for-three on the drive, throwing for 51 yards. The drive – as were many Northwestern drives in the game – was helped by Central Catholic penalties, but Bollinger capped the drive with a 22-yard toss to Tyler Lobach to go up 7-0. On the night, the Vikings were flagged for 135 yards worth of misdeeds.
“I think just controlling the ball and being able to eat up some of the clock was important,” said Snyder. “Confidence-wise, everything we did early on led to being able to control the game better later in the game.”
Snyder waited for just the perfect situation to pull out the New Tripoli Special and he found it with his team up 7-0 and facing a first-and-10 from the Central Catholic 17-yard line. Wide receiver Tyler Lobach wound up with the ball and tossed a perfect pass to Bollinger, who had more than a few steps on the closest defender. Bollinger looked like an experienced receiver as he pulled in the pass to put Northwestern up 14-0.
“We actually had run that play a couple of years ago before the Super Bowl play,” said Snyder. “It was one of the wrinkles that we put in this week for this game and that was the perfect situation to pull it out. Tyler [Lobach] has been saying all year he wanted to do that, so I guess it made his night.”
Northwestern scored onits next two drives, including a two-minute drill late in the second quarter to go up 28-0 by halftime.
The Vikings were set to get the ball to open the second half, but Giovan Robinson fumbled on the return and Ryan Masters fell on the ball to give the Tigers possession at the Vikings 32. On a second-and-16, Bollinger hit Nick Henry on a middle screen. Henry broke a couple tackles and got into the end zone to make it 34-0. Henry rushed for another touchdown and Bollinger hit Justin Rodda for a 20-yard TD strike after that and kicker Connor de Wit launched a 32-yard field goal to give the Tigers the win.
Henry surpassed the 1,000-yard rushing mark and finished the night with 89 yards rushing to put him at 1,053 yards on the season. He also did it in 10 games after missing a regular season game with an injury.
“It’s not me at all,” said Henry. “It’s the line. They carried me the whole season and I can’t thank them enough.”
Lineman Joe Shorts appreciated the compliment, but had a slightly different take on Henry’s milestone. “We’ve got to give him credit too,” said Shorts. “He’s a great back. He runs all over the place and he’s really good.”
One of the highlights of the season was Northwestern’s 49-28 win over Saucon Valley in week seven.
Coming into the game, the Panthers were undefeated and the Tigers were able to get the win even with a couple of key players out of the lineup. Northwestern figures to be healthier for the rematch this Saturday in Hellertown.