Tigers roll over Indians
Northwestern was a game away from reaching the District 11 Class 4A championship game last season. A tough loss to Saucon Valley ended the Tigers’ run.
A year later, the top-seeded Tigers are back in the same position.
Northwestern scored 47 unanswered points to pull away from No. 8 Lehighton last Saturday night in the quarterfinals, 54-14. The win advanced the Tigers to the semifinals against No. 4 Central Catholic.
“We’re going to enjoy this tonight,” said Northwestern head coach Josh Snyder. “We were over at Central Catholic last night to watch them play Saucon Valley. We’ll get together and put a game plan together.”
Lehighton opened the game with a quick lead. The Indians ran 14 plays on their opening drive and converted two fourth-down plays. Ben Schatz scored from a yard out on a quarterback keeper.
“We saw that they did a little bit of wildcat early on [in the season] but hadn’t really done it in the last couple of weeks,” Snyder said. “When they came out [in a wildcat formation], we just had to settle in. They did a nice job converting on a couple of fourth downs on that drive.”
After settling in, it didn’t take long for the Tigers to regain control. Nick Henry’s 14-yard touchdown run capped a seven-play drive and tied the game at 7-7 late in the first quarter.
But Northwestern’s offensive explosion came in the second quarter.
Jayden Allen scored from 28-yards out to give his team a lead. About five minutes later, quarterback Deven Bollinger’s 1-yard sneak into the end zone put the Tigers ahead 20-7 with 6:30 left in the first half.
“I think we really buttoned up things and made some plays on defense to keep them a little bit on their heels, and make them uncomfortable,” Snyder said. “I was really excited with how we responded on offense. On our first drive, we came right down the field and tied it up. We got a stop and then punched another one in.”
The Tigers got the ball back before halftime. Bollinger hit Justin Holmes (six catches for 194 yards) for the first of three touchdown connections between the two for a 26-7 advantage at intermission.
“We wanted to get them off the field and get our offense on the field right away,” Holmes said. “But when they scored [on that first drive], we knew we had to score back and get it done.”
The Tigers methodically drove down the field in 13 plays on their first drive of the second half. Bollinger, who led the Tigers with 87 yards on the ground, scored from two yards out to increase Northwestern lead to 33-7. He also threw for 256 yards, completing nine of his 11 passes.
After another Lehighton punt, the fast-paced Tiger offense took advantage. Two plays later, Bollinger hooked up with Holmes for a 52-yard bomb that found pay dirt.
A 41-yard pick-six from Connor Snyder put the mercy rule into effect with 3:03 left in the third quarter after
“Together as a team, I think we played great,” Holmes said. “The defense did a great job getting the offense on the field. And then the offense went out there and executed.
“The running game was doing really well, which opened up the passing game. And then Deven found a way to get me open.”
Bollinger hit Holmes on the first play of the fourth quarter on another deep touchdown—this one for 63 yards—to cap the Tigers’ scoring. Holmes finished with 194 receiving yards, just a few yards shy of the school record he set earlier this season against Wilson.