Catasauqua Press

Monday, January 22, 2018

Roughs stun Tigers

Thursday, November 2, 2017 by chuck hixson Special to the Press in Sports

The Rough Riders pulled off a stunning win over Northwestern Friday night, scoring the winning touchdown with just 34 left to play, snapping their six-game losing skid. Miguel Hernandez picked off a Phil Dangello pass and returned it 80 yards to give the Roughs a 21-18 lead.

The ill-advised play came on a fourth-down attempt as the Tigers looked to lock up the win. Dangello, playing in the wildcat formation, hadn’t thrown a pass all season, but the Tigers were looking to use the element of surprise for a late score. Dangello was under pressure and threw a floater that Hernandez easily stepped under and sprinted down the sideline before diving into the end zone.

“It’s easy for people to second-guess Josh’s [Northwestern coach Josh Snyder] call over there, but if he completes it he seals the game,” noted Catasauqua coach Phil Dorn. “They were playing for 48 minutes just like we were and I think we got a hit on the quarterback, so we were fortunate and our kid made a great play.”

After losing a couple players to injuries in last week’s game against Southern Lehigh, Dorn had a tough week in practice figuring out who was healthy and how he could get the most out of what he had to work with. Catty was without quarterback Andrew Brett, who suffered a season-ending knee injury against the Spartans, leaving Dorn with a lot of work to do offensively. Brett’s younger brother, backup quarterback Austin Brett, took over against Southern Lehigh, but Dorn went a different direction, putting Hernandez in at quarterback in a wildcat formation.

With just a week to prepare for his varsity debut as a QB, Hernandez did an admirable job, throwing for 38 yards and gaining another 60 yards on the ground.

Dorn is glad to have stability as the team prepares for a District 11 playoff game against Palmerton and the annual Thanksgiving Day game against Northampton, because putting things together last week in preparation for NW isn’t something he wants to go through anytime soon.

“It was awful. The hardest thing for me is seeing our kids get hurt. I tell our kids all the time that I care about them and last week was hard because we had a lot of kids with season-ending injuries and as a parent, that’s something that I hate to see as a coach,” admitted Dorn. “You develop a rapport and relationships with these kids, so that was hard.

“The preparation this week was difficult and we had to do some things differently; we put Miguel back there and we had some other kids ready to go, but we got through it. The kids rose up and we used the next-man-up philosophy and a lot of kids that don’t play much or at all, got a chance tonight.”

Cory Raysely got the Roughies on the board first with a six-yard touchdown run, but NW came back to take a 10-7 lead when Dylan Frantz took the opening kickoff of the second half and returned it 80 yards for a TD. Hernandez hit Derrick Rodriguez with a 23-yard pass to put Catty back up 14-10, but a safety and Justin Rodda’s 21-yard run put the Tigers in control 18-14 late.

NW was driving and looked to seal up the win with a touchdown on a fourth down play when Dangello uncorked the weak pass that led to the interception.

“I say it all the time, ‘we’re a small school and our kids fight, scratch and claw.’ We were up against Southern Lehigh last week, a 5A juggernaut and our kids fought,” pointed out Dorn. “A lot of times with our effort, we do a lot of good things with this team and tonight we finished it and it was exciting to see for the kids. I couldn’t be happier for the kids, it’s been a difficult season and they earned this tonight.”