Bethlehem Catholic wins first District 11 title since 2001
Bethlehem Catholic’s running back Michael McDaniel’s seven-yard touchdown run in overtime gave the Golden Hawks the 27-24 win in overtime against the number one seed Southern Lehigh (10-2) in the District 11 3A football final Saturday night.
With the win, Bethlehem Catholic (8-4) will play the District 2 champion Berwick Bulldogs in the first round of the PIAA 3A playoffs Friday night at J. Birney Crum Stadium in Allentown.
It’s their first title since 2001.”It’s an awesome feeling,” said head football coach Joe Henrich. “It’s awesome for our fans, our administration, our students and our coaches.”
The Golden Hawks capitalized on Southern Lehigh’s miscues in the first half. Becca’s Kyle Smichowski intercepted a Travis Edmonds pass to setup the first score of the game. Michael McDaniel’s four-yard touchdown run put the Golden Hawks up 7-0.
Bethlehem Catholic went up 14-0 on another miscue by Southern Lehigh. A bad snap sailed over Collin Johnston’s head giving the Golden Hawks a first-and-goal on the Spartans nine. Marco Blasco went in from six-yards out.
Southern Lehigh cut the lead to seven late in the first quarter. Edmond’s 41 and 23-yard completions setup his one-yard touchdown run with 1:27 left in the first quarter.
The Golden Hawks Sean Moroney had 65-yard interception that put them up by two touchdowns, 21-7.
Bethlehem Catholic did all this despite not getting a first down until 3:56 remaining in the first half. Their defense forced three turnovers in the first half.
“Our defense played great,” said Henrich. “Down the stretch we have been playing good defense and tonight we needed our defense to step up and they did for us.”
Down 21-7 at halftime, Southern Lehigh started to take control of the game. The Spartans drove 65 yards on ten plays. Edmonds capped off the drive with a one-yard touchdown run with 1:43 left in the third quarter, which cut the lead to seven.
With 6:25 remaining in the game, they were 91 yards away from tying the game and their season on the line, the Spartans drove 12 plays for the score. The biggest play of the game at this point came on a fourth down-and-11. Edmonds hit Jacob Del Priore for a 29-yard completion to the Golden Hawks four. Edmond’s four-yard touchdown with 3:52 remaining tied the game up at 21.
Bethlehem Catholic drove down to the Spartans 29 with 41 seconds left in the game and tried a 46-yard field goal, which fell short. As time ran out the game was tied at 21.
Southern Lehigh got the ball first and Collin Johnston calmly nailed a 31-yard field goal to give the Spartans their first lead of the night, 24-21.
The Golden Hawks answered with a seven-yard touchdown run by Michael McDaniel in overtime for the game winner.
NOTE: Bethlehem Catholic went from 1-9 last year to 8-4. “It feels awesome winning the title after being 1-9 last year,” said Chris Figler. “We all worked real hard in the off-season to get to this point.”
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