Bollinger throws five TDs in win
On a night that opened with the celebration of the 1995 District 11 championship team and a tribute to the late Brett Snyder, the Northwestern Lehigh Tigers christened the new turf field at Tiger Stadium with a 38-17 win over Colonial League foe Salisbury.
Deven Bollinger and Justin Rodda played a game of catch, connecting for four touchdowns and 75 yards receiving for Rodda. Bollinger finished the night with five touchdown passes and 163 yards passing in the win.
“Rodda’s been banged up,” said coach Josh Snyder. “He had a hamstring injury in the spring and then tweaked it a little bit leading up to the season and he didn’t get to practice a whole lot. We were able to get on him pretty good in practice this week and he played really well tonight.”
Northwestern (1-1) got on the board first when Salisbury punter Aaron Kahn attempted to punt from the end zone, but his knee touched the ground when he fielded a bad snap, resulting in a safety.
Salisbury (1-1) quickly recovered and put a 30-yard field goal from Kahn on the board for a 3-2 lead early in the second quarter. Bollinger hit Rodda with two second-quarter touchdown passes to get the Northwestern offense going.
The Falcons lost senior quarterback Trey Weber on the fourth play of the game when he left with an injury and didn’t return. Junior Quintin Stephens took over for Salisbury and fit right into the offensive scheme, which was to look to throw against the Tigers.
Stephens threw for two touchdowns and 257 yards in passing. His longest strike was a 76-yard catch and run to Chad Parton that tied the game at 10-10 with 2:11 left in the first half. By the end of the half, Northwestern held a 16-10 lead after Rodda pulled in his second TD catch of the night.
Northwestern took the opening kick-off of the second half and needed just four plays to go 53 yards, finishing off the drive with the third Bollinger-to-Rodda TD pass of the night. Bollinger then pushed through the line for the two-point conversion and the Tigers were up 24-10.
“Deven and I have always worked well together and he made some big passes tonight that made it pretty easy,” said Rodda.
On their next possession, Bollinger decided to spread the wealth a little and hit Nick Henry out of the backfield on two key passes. The first was a 13-yard completion for a first down and the second was for 47 yards into the end zone.
The defense for Northwestern looked to clamp down on Stephens and the Falcon offense in the second half. While Salisbury still moved the ball at times, Northwestern kept the Falcons off the board in the third quarter.
The teams traded fourth-quarter touchdown passes, with Stephens hitting Parton on a 12-yard strike and Bollinger finding Rodda in the end zone for a fourth time on a 14-yard completion.
“This was definitely a huge boost, coming off of a loss and then to win is definitely a big confidence builder,” said Rodda.
Salisbury was its own worst enemy in the game. The Falcons were flagged for 15 penalties for 120 yards. The majority of the penalties were illegal procedure calls, some of which may have been prompted by the change in QB.
The game was the first on Northwestern Lehigh’s new artificial turf at Tiger Stadium. The school also honored the ‘95 Northwestern Lehigh team that won the District 11 championship, with 20 players and four of the coaches, including head coach Bob Mitchell on hand for the ceremony.
The celebration was done a year prior to the 25th anniversary of the team’s heroics so as to coincide with the remembrance of teammate Brett Snyder, who passed away last spring. While the 2019 team is the first to have artificial turf, the ‘95 team was the first to play games under the lights at Tiger Stadium, shifting games from Saturday afternoons to Friday nights.