Northwestern cruises past Lehighton in playoff opener
NEW TRIPOLI, Pa. – Lehighton struck first, but Northwestern had the last laugh in a 54-19 win in a District 11 4A playoff opener on Friday night at Tiger Stadium. The Indians jumped out to a 6-0 lead over the Tigers, but Northwestern outscored the visitors 54-13 the rest of the way to advance to the semifinals.
Justin Holmes led the way for Northwestern in his first postseason start as a quarterback of the team, as he converted from the receiver in previous campaigns. He totaled five touchdowns and 399 yards of offense to pilot Northwestern to victory on their home turf.
Many of those touchdowns were explosive, big-yard plays, starting with their first score when Holmes hit Taylor Wikert on a 60-yard touchdown pass. That duo connected later in the game for a 66-yard touchdown catch as well. Those were the first two touchdown catches of his career.
The Tigers grabbed a 13-6 lead late in the first quarter via a seven-yard rushing touchdown by Cade Cristopher. They never looked back from there.
In addition to Friday’s scores being explosive, they also were memorable. In addition to Wikert scoring his first career touchdown, so did two other Tigers in their triumph. Cody Hallock, on what was his first career catch as well, caught a tipped pass and ran it 54 yards for a score, which pushed Northwestern’s lead to 40-13 in the third quarter.
Later in the second half, with 8:04 left in the contest, Dalton Clymer scampered 77 yards for a rushing touchdown, the first of his career.
There was history made in the contest by Lehighton as well. Zack Hunsicker set a new school record for career receptions in Friday’s game. He caught his 112th pass, which broke the previous best set by Jacen Nalesnik.
Hunsicker finished with four catches for 30 yards and a touchdown in the playoff loss. His receiving touchdown, for eleven yards, cut the deficit to 26-13 at halftime. The Tigers took off in the final two quarters and pulled away from Lehighton for the win.
Northwestern will remain home and host Wilson in the next round. The Warriors upset Pottsville on Friday night. The season is not over for Lehighton as the Indians will face Pocono Mountain West in a contingency game on Thursday night. Both games are slated for 7 p.m. starts.
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