Tigers seal league title with win
If Northwestern had written the script for how last Friday night would play out, the Tigers would have gotten it all right except for one detail. They beat Catasauqua 47-0 to handle their part of the script and then saw Pottsville and Bethlehem Catholic both lose to keep Northwestern on top of the District 11 Class 4A rankings.
The only bad part of the movie was when Southern Lehigh beat Salisbury, forcing the Tigers and Spartans to share – at least officially – the Colonial League championship.
For Northwestern’s players though, their win over Southern Lehigh three weeks ago that knocked them from the ranks of the undefeated teams makes the Tigers the true champion.
“We’ll still claim bragging rights,” said coach Josh Snyder about having to share the league championship.
As Northwestern celebrated senior night at Tiger Stadium, it was senior Jayden Allen who had a big night, pulling in a 34-yard touchdown pass and rushing for three other touchdowns and a total of 77 yards on the ground on the night. Seniors also took turns moving from the offensive line to the backfield, with Derek Hebelka, Hale Trotter and Robbie Goldberg all getting carries on the first possession of the second half.
The three linemen combined for 39 yards on seven carries and the drive ultimately took Northwestern into the end zone when senior Deven Bollinger tossed to Justin Holmes, who did a nifty tap-dance in the front corner of the end zone to stay in bounds.
“They kind of put a lot of things in for the seniors this week to give us some extra opportunities,” said Allen about the night. “It was a great night and we can certainly celebrate, plus, we keep playing in bigger games.”
Northwestern turned the ball over on an interception on its first drive of the night, but came right back with a short field thanks to a seven-yard punt by Catasauqua that gave the Tigers the football at the Rough Riders 22-yard line. Bollinger, along with Paul Huff and Nick Henry each carried the ball once and got into the end zone for an early 7-0 lead.
On the Tigers’ next possession, they needed to go just 56 yards and used just four plays to set up a 26-yard TD run by Allen, making it 14-0 with 2:04 left in the first quarter.
Their next possession was also short and sweet, using just over one minute to go 58 yards with Bollinger hitting Holmes for the score. Andres Garrido’s third extra-point of the night made it 21-0.
The Tigers struck two more times before the end of the half, first on Allen’s 29-yard run and then on the 34-yard pass from Bollinger to Allen. An extra-point and a two-point conversion attempt failed, leaving Northwestern up 33-0 at halftime.
“We were going against a team that’s struggling right now and we really wanted to get a lead and then get some other guys on the field and keep our starters healthy,” said Snyder. “It just so happened that the schedule had them as our last game and not to take anything away from them, but it worked out well for us.”
After senior Ryan Masters recovered a Catty fumble, the Tigers turned to backup players the rest of the way. Sophomore Andrew Sabo took over at quarterback and junior Michael Rader took over carrying the ball. Sabo picked up his first varsity touchdown when he went in from three-yards out to cap the scoring.
The Tigers came into the night able to finish anywhere between first and third in the 4A rankings in District 11. With Pottsville and Bethlehem Catholic both losing, Northwestern maintains the number-one ranking and will host Lehighton Saturday night in the district quarterfinals.
A win would give the Tigers a second home game in the semifinals against either Saucon Valley or Allentown Central Catholic. The Tigers beat Saucon Valley 36-0 in week eight and beat Central Catholic 50-13 in last year’s district quarterfinal game.