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Holmes runs wild in NW win over Salisbury

The Northwestern Lehigh football team used prolific ground game Friday night while the Salisbury Falcons were forced to go to the air. The Tigers’ running game, led by quarterback Justin Holmes outdistanced the Salisbury passing game, leading to a 39-28 win for Northwestern.

Both teams came into the game with similar plans offensively, but when Salisbury lost running back Gio Hines to an injury, the passing game became the Falcons’ best option. While Quintin Stephens wound up throwing for 168 yards and three touchdown passes, Holmes rushed for 245 yards on 24 carries. Northwestern also got 98 yards rushing from Nick Henry, who scored three times in the game.

Henry didn’t have to work hard for his first two touchdown runs, going just two yards for the Tigers’ first touchdown of the night and following that up with a one-yard run on their next possession. On Northwestern’s first drive of the fourth quarter, Henry capped a 10-play march with a 19-yard run into the end zone that put the Tigers up 39-20 after Andres Garrido added the extra point.

Henry answered any questions about how much he might be able to play after leaving last week’s game at Palmerton early and having to get stitches to close a cut in his right hand.

“I thought Nick [Henry] had one of his best nights rushing the ball, not in terms of yards but in how he was running,” said Northwestern head coach Josh Snyder. “He was really sticking his nose in there and running hard tonight. He did that with those stitches in his hand, too. That was pretty impressive.”

Stephens answered Northwestern’s first score when he hit Chad Parton on a beautifully placed pass for a 38-yard TD with 24 seconds left in the first quarter, tying the game at 7-7. A 13-yard touchdown carry by Justin Rodda put Northwestern up 21-7 and on the next possession, Salisbury’s Stephens completed three passes for 62 yards, including a 30-yard pass to Josh Brooks to finish the drive and cut the Tigers lead to seven.

On Northwestern’s next drive it was all Holmes, who opened the drive with a 56-yard run to the Falcons 10-yard line and then took it in himself on the next play. Holmes also sprinted off the right side for the two-point conversion, making it 29-14.

Stephens threw for another touchdown in the fourth quarter and Parton ran for another from five yards out with Henry’s third TD of the night squeezed between the two Salisbury drives. Andrews Garrido kicked a 26-yard field goal midway through the third quarter to add to Northwestern’s scoring.

With the success of the ground game, Holmes only threw10 passes, completing three for a total of 58 yards. The rest of the night Northwestern was content to run the ball and take time off the clock, leaving less opportunities for Stephens and Parton to connect on long passes. Parton had 11 catches for 168 yards and a touchdown on the night for the Falcons.

“We had Nick in for most of the game and we didn’t last week. It’s hard to key on one of us and when Nick’s in the game they have to key on him,” said Holmes of the success of the ground game. “The guys up front did a nice job for us.”

Salisbury looked to put on a late charge, but again, it was Henry who put an end to that when he intercepted Stephens. From there, Northwestern Lehigh was able to run out the clock to wrap up the win.

Defensively, Michael Rader became a starter just a couple weeks ago and has led Northwestern in tackles in each of his two starts. The senior has been playing as part of the linebacking corps and has impressed the coaching staff.

“He’s a guy who has been hanging around and didn’t really flash much to us and we were sort of forced to put him in and all he’s done is lead our team in tackles the last couple weeks, so he’s really done a nice job in there,” said Snyder. “He’s a senior and he’s a program guy and you’ve got to be happy for those guys that stick around and work their tails off to get their opportunity and then make the most of it.”

PRESS PHOTO BY CHUCK HIXSON Justin Holmes ran for 248 yards in last week's win over Salisbury.
PRESS PHOTO BY NANCY SCHOLZ Ryan McDonnell and Reed Conrey pull down a Falcon ball carrier during last week's win over Salisbury.