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Northern Lehigh beats Lackawanna Trail to reach Quarterfinals

Written by: on Saturday, November 19th, 2022. Follow Mitch Rupert on Twitter.


DUNMORE — A couple of Lackawanna Trail offensive linemen tried to push Northern Lehigh linebacker Bailey Smith out of their way. Smith just didn’t budge.

By the time the screen pass floated toward the 6-foot, 175-pounder, he looked like the intended receiver. The interception came with 2 minutes left in the first half of Saturday’s PIAA Class A first-round game at Dunmore High School’s Veterans Memorial Stadium, and it set up the Bulldogs with a short field.

Northern Lehigh turned the only turnover of the football game into a touchdown. And it was a touchdown that gave the Bulldogs a three-score lead heading into halftime of an eventual 40-7 victory.

The Bulldogs advance to next week’s Class A quarterfinals where they will face District 3 champion Steelton-Highspire at a site and time to be determined.

“Now you feel comfortable,” Northern Lehigh coach Joe Tout said of that touchdown. “We can put up points, but at the end of the day out team’s strength is the defense. So when you build up a three-score lead, you feel good about it.”

There were plenty of reasons to feel good. The Northern Lehigh offense ran for 360 yards and scored all six of its touchdowns on the ground. The Bulldogs’ defense allowed just 126 yards of total offense and four first downs to a Lackawanna Trail offense that had scored at least 36 points four times during its five-game winning streak.

Northern Lehigh quarterback Nick Frame led the Bulldogs with 114 yards rushing, becoming the first player in school history to run and throw for 1,000 yards in the same season. Izaiah Ramos ran for a career-high 108 yards and a pair of touchdowns just two weeks after returning from a broken collarbone.

Ramos, who said he’s still getting his full range of motion back in his shoulder, made a critical catch on that final touchdown drive of the first half for Northern Lehigh. He caught a 20-yard pass from Frame in traffic to set the Bulldogs up at the 1-yard line.

When John Abidelli punched it in on the next play, Northern Lehigh had a 27-7 lead at halftime. The Bulldogs’ defense has allowed 27 points in a game just four times this year, three of which were wins.

“We wore on them. We just stayed the course,” Tout said. “Late in the second quarter we felt like we were wearing on them and we didn’t have to worry about them flying to the ball as they had been, and we could settle in.”

Northern Lehigh used Lackawanna Trail’s aggressiveness to its own advantage running reverses, counter treys, and other misdirection plays which gave Bulldog ballcarriers plenty of room to operate.

After a bad punt snap set up Northern Lehigh in the plus territory in the first quarter, a 13-yard run by AJ Jimenez on a counter play set up Ramos for the first of his two touchdown runs.

Frame’s outside run early in the second quarter caught the Lions’ defense being a little too aggressive and opening up a hole for a 10-yard touchdown run. Ramos then scored his second touchdown 5 minutes later on a counter play which opened up a gap for a 21-yard scoring run.

“They were flying to the ball,” Tout said. “They were all over the place and that set up the counters.”

Ramos finished the first half with 99 rushing yards, which was already a career-high. He carried only three times the rest of the game. But he was a central piece of Northern Lehigh’s offense. His outside speed was the perfect complement to AJ Jimenez’s brutish running up the middle which led to 59 yards and a touchdown.

“I’m just so grateful to God. Coming off a seven-week injury, you’re still getting your conditioning back and my shoulder mobility back,” Ramos said. “It’s not fun being out. But I put everything aside and came on this field thinking about only football. I love this game so much and everything else goes away when I’m on this field.”

The Northern Lehigh defense dominated over the final 24 minutes. Its only hiccup throughout the game was a 55-yard touchdown run by Lackawanna Trail’s Hunter Patterson on a quick-hitting trap play early in the second quarter.
But take away that run and the Bulldogs allowed just 70 yards of offense. The Lions didn’t record a first down in the second half.

“We’ll go back inside and see what we missed on that trap play, but give them credit because they weren’t able to get outside on us and they hit that quick one inside,” Tout said. “But our kids adjusted, and once they saw it once they were able to get to that as well.”

Northern Lehigh 40, Lackawanna Trail 7

Northern Lehigh 6 21 7 6 — 40
Lackawanna Trail 0 7 0 0 — 7

First Quarter
NL—Izaiah Ramos 3 run (run failed), 3:53
Second Quarter
NL—Nick Frame 10 run (AJ Jimenez run), 9:16
LT—Hunter Patterson 55 run (Isaac Ryon kick), 8:58
NL—Ramos 21 run (Chase Moffitt kick), 4:30
NL—John Abidelli 1 run (kick failed), :36
Third Quarter
NL— Frame 37 run (Moffitt kick), 5:30
Fourth Quarter
NL—Jimenez 3 run (run failed), 7:34

First Downs 24 4
Rushes-Yards 50-360 25-126
Comp-Att-Int 8-10-0 0-4-1
Passing 62 0
Total Yards 422 126
Fumbles-Lost 1-0 1-0
Penalties-Yards 4-24 1-10
Individual statistics
Rushing: Northern Lehigh — Nick Frame, 10-114, 2 TDs; Izaiah Ramos, 11-108, 2 TDs; AJ Jimenez, 13-59, TD; John Abidelli, 7-39, TD; Jack Tosh, 7-35; Reese Lipsky, 1-3; Isaac Raber, 1-2. Lackawanna Trail — Lukas Gumble, 9-79; Hunter Patterson, 6-59, TD; Stephen Jervis, 5-5; Demetrius Douglas, 4-(-4); Team, 1-(-13).

Passing: Northern Lehigh — Nick Frame, 8-10-0, 62 yds. Lackawanna Trail — Stephen Jervis, 0-4-1.

Receiving: Northern Lehigh — Izaiah Ramos, 4-28; Austin Smyth, 2-17; Ethan Karpowich, 1-10; Chase Wisocky, 1-7. Lackawanna Trail — None.

INTERCEPTIONS — Northern Lehigh, Bailey Smith.

Records: Lackawanna Trail (8-5); Northern Lehigh (12-1).

Next: Northern Lehigh vs. Steelton-Highspire in the PIAA Class A Quarterfinals

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