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Tigers top Tamaqua

It’s no secret that Northwestern’s Cade Christopher is a big play waiting to happen.

He proved that as the Tigers’ starting wide receiver the last two seasons.

What wasn’t known, however, was if Christopher could continue to be a playmaker in his new position of quarterback.

Christopher answered that question on Northwestern’s second play from scrimmage in Friday’s season opener against Tamaqua. He then made sure there was no doubt by answering it over and over again.

Christopher ran for four touchdowns, threw for another, and piled up nearly 300 yards in total offense as Northwestern rolled to a 49-22 Colonial-Schuylkill League victory over the Blue Raiders.

“I think we can be pretty explosive offensively this season and I think you saw why tonight,” said Northwestern coach Josh Snyder. “We can pound the ball inside with Dalton (Clymer) and then we have Cade making plays on the perimeter. It’s an outstanding 1-2 punch.”

Despite the fact that Christopher had taken very few snaps at quarterback in his Tiger career before last Friday night, he was confident in his ability and that of his teammates.

“I think I had thrown about eight passes in my career,” Christopher said. “But we have such outstanding players all around me, I wasn’t worried about the transition to a new position.

“I knew I would be able to make some big plays and I knew our offense was going to dominate.”

That they did.

Northwestern scored the first three times it had the ball to jump out to a 21-0 second quarter lead. Christopher had TD runs of 67 and two yards and also hit Lucas Mauro with a 10-yard scoring pass to account for the quick start.

“We wanted to get off to a fast start,” Snyder said. “Tamaqua struggled a little last year and we thought if we got off to a quick lead it might put some doubt in their heads.

“But give them a lot of credit. We got the lead we wanted, but they made some big plays and got right back into it. It doesn’t take much to turn around a game’s momentum, and that’s what happened. We went from being in control to being in a tight game in the span of a minute.”

The Raiders responded to the early deficit by scoring two touchdowns in a 69 second span late in the half to pull within 21-16. Isaac Curvey ran six yards for one score and Luke Kane hit Warren Stewart with a 37-yard pass for the other.

“I was happy with how we answered their quick start,” said Tamaqua coach Sam Bonner. “We made some nice plays offensively and went into the lockers at halftime with all the momentum.

“But we couldn’t maintain it. We struggled to contain Christopher. He made big play after big play and helped bust the game open.”

The plays Bonner referred to were Christopher TD runs of 42 and 57 yards on the Tigers’ first two possession of the second half.

“Our coaches were calm at halftime,” Christopher said. “They weren’t screaming about us letting Tamaqua get back into the game.

“But as players we were upset. We knew what we had to do to regain momentum. We talked about scoring on our first possession and then not letting up - and that’s what we did. We just kept the pedal to the metal.”

BIG PLAY HISTORY ... Playing primarily as a receiver the past two seasons, Christopher caught 50 passes for 19 touchdowns and averaged over 20 yards per reception. He also ran the ball 50 times, averaging over 10 yards a carry and scoring another eight TDs.

RAPID FIRE POINTS ... Northwestern scored on its first four possessions of the second half, needing less than 14 minutes of game time to turn a 21-16 lead into a 49-16 lead. The Tigers needed just 15 offensive plays to score the four touchdowns.

INTERCEPTION ... The Tigers’ Eli Zimmerman picked off Kane on the game’s first series. It was the only turnover of the night by either team. Zimmerman also added a fourth quarter TD run for the Tigers.

PILING UP YARDAGE ... Northwestern had 508 yards of total offense. Christopher ran for 230 yards on just 11 carries (20.9 yards per carry), while Clymer had 94 yards on 13 carries (7.2 yards per carry).

PRESS PHOTO BY NANCY SCHOLZ Northwestern quarterback Cade Christopher gets set to fire a pass as teammate Ben Walters provides a block.