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Northwestern will present a new challenge

After picking up its first victory of the season, and rather convincingly, Salisbury is hoping to make it back-to-back wins on Friday night. It would even its record at 2-2 just as the Falcons pass the midway point of 2020.

But the task ahead is a difficult one. Salisbury will once again be back under its own stadium lights on Friday, but it will play host to one of the league’s top teams in Northwestern (3-1). The road to a .500 record is a tough one, but head coach Andy Cerco and the Falcons, who defeated Pen Argyl last week, will give it their best shot.

Junior quarterback Justin Holmes leads Northwestern’s offense, which averages 399 yards per game and erupted for 540 in last week’s 57-28 romp of Palmerton. That 540-yard outing was the second most in program history. And the offense is a balanced attack: 201.5 rushing yards and 197.5 passing per game.

Holmes is at the center of both threats. He’s completed 37 of 74 passes for 790 yards and 11 touchdowns through the air this season, including a 262-yard, three-touchdown effort against the Blue Bombers.

But maybe what is even more impressive is his ability to be a threat as a runner. He scored four more times on the ground against Palmerton last week, and gained 173 yards on 16 carries (9.5 average). He’s the Tiger’s leading rusher on the season with 436 yards and eight touchdowns on 58 carries, all team-highs.

Holmes totaled over 400 yards of offense against Palmerton a week ago. He’s also the Tigers’ main punt and kick returner.

The Tigers’ offense has plenty of other weapons. Out of the backfield is senior running back Nick Henry. His 251 rushing yards and three touchdowns provide a sold one-two punch for Northwestern. He’s also caught 12 passes for 192 yards and another score for the Tigers.

Justin Rodda, a senior wide receiver, is another playmaker at Northwestern’s disposal. He’s caught 11 passes for 213 yards (second on team) and four touchdowns through four games, and has ran for 150 more yards and two scores. He’s another one of those gifted dual threat athletes that can beat opposing defenses in multiple ways.

Rounding out Northwestern’s aerial attack is sophomore Cade Christopher. He has only caught six passes through four games, but all have ended up in the end zone as touchdowns for the young playmaker. His 289 yards is tops on the team, good for a 48.2 yards-per-catch average.

Defensively, many of the same names highlight the Tigers’ unit that has allowed 32 points and 351 yards per game. A main piece is senior defensive end Owen Coffield, who leads the Tigers in tackles (24 solo) tackles for loss (8) and pass break-ups (2). Junior defensive back Taylor Wikert is a strong piece to the Tigers’ secondary with 15 tackles, four interceptions and two pass break-ups.

Henry (14 tackles, 4 tackles for loss), Rodda (13 tackles) and Reed Conrey (12 tackles, 1 sack) are also a few of the Tiger’s top tacklers.