CHS tops NW on Hernandez’s INT return
The streak is over and it’s on to the postseason.
Catasauqua’s football team snapped a six-game losing streak and stunned host Northwestern, 21-18, last Friday night, and they did it in grand fashion in the final regular season game.
With the win, the Roughies (3-7) managed to re-secure the fourth and final playoff spot in the District 11 Class 2A bracket. Due to their losing streak, Catasauqua seemingly had dropped out of contention, but their win over Class 4A Northwestern gave them enough points in the power rankings to lift them over Minersville and Panther Valley in the 2A bracket.
The Roughies’ Miguel Hernandez picked off Northwestern quarterback Phil Dangello’s pass and returned it 78 yards that gave the Rough Riders the lead with just 34 seconds left in the game.
Northwestern elected to go for it on fourth down to seal the win. But Dangello came under pressure, and he floated the ball. Hernandez caught it in stride and raced down the sideline and dove into the end zone for the game-winning play.
Tigers head coach Josh Snyder realized he apparently made a mistake.
“In no area of my right mind should I ever have called a pass play with our defense playing tough and just 30 seconds left,” said Snyder. “I don’t know if I got greedy or if I just wanted to seal it right there. They were really cheating off the edge and whatever happened is on me.”
With starting quarterback Andrew Brett sidelined with a knee injury he sustained the previous week against Palmerton, Hernandez, a wide receiver on offense, took over the signal calls in a wildcat position. Hernandez tossed a 23-yard touchdown pass to Derrick Rodriguez that gave the Roughies a 14-10 lead in the third quarter.
At times during the season, Hernandez had run the offense. He stated it was a coach between him and fellow wide receiver Corey Raysely to call the signals.
“The coaches said it was up to one of us and I said that I would do it,” said Hernandez, who completed two of six passes for 39 yards. “This was the first time that I did this in a game and it was pretty cool.
“I really wasn’t nervous because it was our last regular season game, and I just wanted to go out there and have some fun.”
Raysely gave the Roughies a 7-0 lead in the opening quarter when he scored on a six-yard run. The Roughies committed consecutive encroachment penalties that helped Northwestern get on the board before halftime when they had a 41-yard attempt turn into a 31-yarder. The Tigers had two touchdowns called back because of penalties.
“The game was by far the best team game we have played,” said Raysely. “We were solid on both offense and defense for the better part of the game.”
Northwestern jumped ahead, 10-7, at the start of the second half when Dylan Frantz returned the kickoff 80 yards for a score. A high snap over the head of Catasauqua punter Devon Troxell led to a safety and the Tigers added a score that gave them an 18-14 advantage on the final minute.
After Hernandez’s interception return, Troxell squibbed the ensuing kickoff, the Roughies recovered and ran out the clock.
With their win, Catasauqua will travel to Palmerton Friday night to meet the top-seeded Blue Bombers (7-3) in the opening round of the playoffs.