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Tiger WR catches two more TDs

Those familiar with Northwestern’s football program have spoken of the team’s “three-headed monster” this season.

With talented skill players in quarterback Justin Holmes, running back Nick Henry,and wide receiver Justin Rodda, it’s easy to see why that phrase has been attached to them.

But after the Tigers’ first four games in 2020, people - especially opposing coaches - may want to change that name.

With the success of Cade Christopher, it’s probably more appropriate to call them a “four-headed monster.”

Christopher caught two more touchdown passes last Friday against Palmerton, helping his team pull away for a 57-28 Colonial League victory.

The sophomore only has six catches this season, but all six have resulted in touchdowns. He has at least one score in all four of his teams games, with four of the six TD receptions covering over 50 yards. He now has 289 receiving yards, an amazing average of 48.2 yards per catch.

Against the Blue Bombers, he extended his team’s lead to 43-21 with 4:46 left in the third quarter with a 13-yard touchdown pass from Holmes. Less than two minutes later, he snared another Holmes throw and raced 76 yards to put the game away.

“No, I haven’t seen anything like that before,” said head coach Josh Snyder of having a player’s first six catches all be for touchdowns.

While the 10th grader still has some growing pains from time-to-time, his talent is undeniable.

“He’s one of those kids that will drive you crazy because he’ll have a mental lapse on one or two plays,” said Snyder. “He was supposed to get a screen play in the first half. We were looking to throw it to him, and he was running down the field. We came back to him and he redeemed himself ... so that was nice to see that he can bounce back from being coached up.

“We were able to hit some big plays. Our skill guys are a tough cover, especially Holmes, Henry, Rodda,and Christopher. They’re a pretty good four to have on your side.”

While Christopher helped close out the contest, it was Holmes that was mostly responsible for his team pulling ahead.

Tied 7-7 late in the first quarter, Holmes connected with Rodda on a 32-yard hookup. The pass set up the quarterback’s 8-yard TD run to put the Tigers (3-1) in front for good.

Holmes, who finished the game with 152 yards rushing, added another score early in the second quarter when he broke loose for a 36-yard sprint to the end zone.

“Holmes just had a monster game,” said Snyder. “I told him he had it humming tonight, and it was nice to see. He was in the zone running the ball, making great decisions, getting rid of the ball. There are times I’d like to see him keep himself out of trouble, get down or run out of bounds to live to fight another day, but I’m not sure that’s in his DNA.”

The junior signal-caller may have been at his best right before the half. After Palmerton closed withing 22-14 late in the second quarter, Holmes moved his team 70 yards in two minutes. He completed three passes and added a 21-yard run, which led to his 2-yard TD with 22 seconds left until the break.

“That was a big swing,” said Snyder, whose team also received the second-half kickoff. “We work hard at practice ... with time management. At the end of the first half, you can kind of double up there, score within under a minute left and then get the ball coming out. So it’s sort of a twofer.”

The Tigers completed that “twofer” three plays into the second half when Holmes threw a pass over the middle to Rodda that resulted in a 75-yard touchdown. That put Northwestern on top 36-14 and set the stage for Christopher’s performance.

Holmes finished with four touchdown runs and three TD passes, throwing for 263 yards.

“They’re a good football team,” said Palmerton head coach Chris Walkowiak. “They’re as good as advertised. Their play makers make plays. We had matchups that we thought were solid, but they just made the plays.

“You just pick your poison in who you want to try and stop. We did a decent job early on with the inside run, but they hurt us on the outside ... and then they were very efficient in the pass game.”

QUICK STRIKE OFFENSE ... Northwestern’s eight scoring drives took a total of 34 plays, or 4.25 plays per drive. Five of the scores came on drives of five plays or less.

MOVING THE BALL ... The Tigers put up 540 yards of offense, with a good balance of run (278) and pass (262). The yardage is the second most in a game in Northwestern’s history. The most was 577 against Lehighton on Nov. 9, 2007.

RODDA RECORD ... Rodda tied a school record for touchdown catches in a career with 23. He currently shares the top spot with Cam Richardson (2012-14).

FALLING BEHIND ... The Tigers have given up the game’s first score in three straight games, but have won two of them.

LEADING TACKLERS … Senior Reed Conrey led the Tigers defensively with 12 tackles against Palmerton. Northwestern also received nine stops from both Owen Coffield and Mike Rader. Coffield had two tackles for loss.

PRESS PHOTO BY NANCY SCHOLZ Cade Christopher has caught six passes this season and all have gone for touchdowns.