Lehighton Defense Clutch in Win Over North Schuylkill
Down 22-14, North Schuylkill lined up for a fourth and 11 from the Lehighton 15-yard line with 30 seconds left in regulation.
Doug Weist’s pass to the end zone fell incomplete, as the Lehighton defense came through in the clutch to cap off an impressive performance.
“The defense has improved dramatically,” head coach Tom McCaroll said. “That’s been the difference in our whole season.”
The Indians pressured Weist all night, leaving him uncomfortable in the pocket and disrupting the North Schuylkill passing attack. Lehighton eliminated North Schuylkill’s playmakers, as leading receiver Scotty Grigas was held to just two catches for 26 yards.
Lehighton star QB Cody Scherer was involved in all three touchdowns for the Indians, including a 74-yard breakaway run. Scherer finished with 101 yards passing and 144 yards rushing.
North Schuylkill was without starting tailback Mitch Wagner, who was out with a shoulder injury. Sophomore Zach Chowansky stepped in and scored his first career touchdown from three yards out, giving the Spartans a 6-0 lead early in the second quarter. Chowansky finished with 27 carries for 101 yards and a touchdown.
Scherer’s lone target throughout the night was Zach Crum, who recorded five catches for 101 yards and two touchdowns. Lehighton took their first lead of the game by a score of 8-6, when Crum caught a 25-yard pass from Scherer and converted the two-point try.
Although down 8-6 at half, North Schuylkill controlled the clock with slow, methodical drives. Red zone penalties and lack of a kicking game limited the Spartans opportunities for points, but Lehighton’s defense was on the field for long periods of time.
After Scherer’s electrifying 74-yard run and 62-yard bomb to Crum, Lehighton found themselves up 22-6 with just seven minutes in regulation. North Schuylkill was facing a late deficit for the second straight week, coming back from being down by 13 to beat Mount Carmel in Week Five.
The Spartan resurgence started when Weist found Jayden Leiby for a 24-yard touchdown and converted the two-point try. With four minutes to go, the Lehighton lead was cut to eight.
On North Schuylkill’s final drive, Weist played with an extreme sense of urgency. The senior QB completed more passes on the drive than the entire game, giving the Spartans life as they marched down the field.
The Lehighton defense was the story yet again, as they came up with another big stop deep in their own territory, extinguishing North Schuylkill’s comeback bid.
The Indians improve to 6-0, as Tamaqua comes to town in Week Seven. North Schuylkill will play another undefeated team, hitting the road to visit Jim Thorpe and the elite “Red Swarm” defense.
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