Tigers rally to beat No. Lehigh
Northwestern’s Deven Bollinger tries to run away from Mike Repsher of Northern Lehigh during Friday night’s Colonial League game. BOB FORD/TIMES NEWS
Northwestern Lehigh and Northern Lehigh met in their annual Mountain Road Rumble Friday night in Slatington and the first half turned out to be a one-sided rumble as Northern Lehigh scored 17 unanswered points. But two quick second half scores put the Tigers right back in the game and they ended the night with a 28-24 victory.
Northern Lehigh (5-4) came out looking to run the ball and had success by mixing and matching their runners. Five different players had multiple carries in the first 24-minutes of the game as the Bulldogs put up 200 yards of total offense, compared to just 63 yards for Northwestern at the half.
The Bulldogs ate nearly seven-minutes off the clock on their first drive of the night, which went for 73 yards and was capped by a 22-yard pass from running back Mike Repsher to tight end Tyler Long, who rumbled into the end zone. Brett Misera added the extra point to put Northern Lehigh up 7-0.
Northwestern came right back with a drive of its own to the Bulldogs’ two-yard line, but came up short on a fourth-and-goal, giving the ball back to Northern Lehigh.
“That was a big stop for them,” said Northwestern coach Josh Snyder. “The good thing is that we didn’t let that kill us. We kept battling even though that first half was pretty rough for us. It’s a testament to these guys that they just didn’t quit.”
A second quarter safety gave Northern Lehigh a 9-0 edge and just before halftime, Zach Moyer took off for a 21-yard run into the end zone to give Northern Lehigh a 17-0 lead at halftime.
“We let them know that we weren’t happy with them at halftime,” Snyder said. “We let them know that the way we played in the first half was no way for a championship team to play and we had to be better than that and they really took that to heart.”
The message really was heard loud and clear as Northwestern (8-1) put up two scores in the first four minutes of the third quarter to cut the lead to 17-14. First came a nine-yard run by Nick Henry.
On Northern Lehigh’s first play of the quarter, Moyer was hit hard and Cody Wieder fell on the ball for the Tigers to give them the ball at the Bulldogs’ 23. Deven Bollinger carried the ball down to the three and Henry went in from there.
Another NL turnover, this time on an interception by Nick Henry, started a Tigers drive at their own 44. Bollinger then went down the left sideline for 43 yards and another Northwestern score, giving the Tigers their first lead of the night at 21-17.
“The turnovers hurt us in the second half,” said Northern Lehigh coach Joe Tout. “It really was two different games between the first half and the second half.”
To prove that they weren’t going to go quietly, the Bulldogs put together a 62-yard drive and Moyer finished it off with a 34-yard pass to Evan Zambo that put Northern Lehigh back in the driver’s seat at 24-21.
With 10:44 left to play, Northwestern opened a drive at its own 28 and quickly moved into Northern Lehigh territory on a 29-yard run by Bollinger. Six plays later, Justin Holmes found the end zone and Andres Garrido added the extra-point for a 28-24 advantage.
Northern Lehigh began to march down the field and was aided by a face mask call that gave them a first down at the Northwestern 20. From there, the Tigers defense dug in and forced a turnover on downs with 3:09 left to play. Henry ran for eight yards and Bollinger carried three straight times for two first downs as the Tigers ran out the clock.
“We have a number of seniors on this team who are great leaders for us and the big thing we want to do is win a championship this year,” said Bollinger. “Obviously, we have a big game against Catty next week to close things out, but it’s huge for us.”
NEW CLOTHES ... Both teams wore special uniforms for Salute To The Troops Night at Bulldog Stadium. The Northwestern uniforms are reversible and will go from this week’s white jerseys to a gray jersey for next week’s Senior Night at Tiger Stadium. Friday night was Senior Night for Northern Lehigh.
KEEPING PACE ... Southern Lehigh (8-1) defeated Catasauqua (0-9), leaving the Spartans and Tigers tied with one loss each in the Colonial League. If the tie isn’t broken next week, the teams will be co-champions. Southern Lehigh hosts Salisbury (6-3) in their regular season finale next week.