Penalties hurt in loss to NW
When starting quarterback Trey Weber went down with an injury on the fourth play of the game, the air seemed to go out of the Salisbury Falcons side of the field last Thursday night. But when backup Quintin Stephens came in and rolled off the game plan to near perfection, he reinflated the Salisbury offense and finished with a big night passing.
Unfortunately for the Falcons, Northwestern used the momentum of opening its new turf field to take a 38-17 decision over the Falcons, who fell to 1-1 on the season.
Salisbury came into the game looking to throw the ball and even with backup Stephens coming in, the plan didn’t change. Stephens went on to finish the night with 257 yards passing and two touchdown passes, including a 76-yard strike to Chad Parton.
“We felt that we could throw the ball against them and we weren’t going to move off of that game plan,” said coach Andy Cerco. “We tell our backups to practice as if they were starting because you never know what’s going to happen. Quintin is one of those kids who takes that to heart and doesn’t just go through the motions and he picked the team right up.”
Salisbury was called for a safety in the first quarter when punter Aaron Kahn had to go to a knee to field a snap from center while standing in the end zone.
The 2-0 score held up through the first 12 minutes of play until Kahn kicked a 30-yard field goal in the second quarter to make it a 3-2 contest. Northwestern got a touchdown and a two-point conversion to take a 10-3 lead, but Salisbury came back with a big pass play from Stephens to Parton to tie the game.
The Tigers (1-1) went into the locker room at the half with a 16-10 lead and stretched it to 24-10 when they scored on the opening drive of the second half and added another two-point conversion. Northwestern Lehigh quarterback Deven Bollinger finished the night with five touchdown passes, four of which were to receiver Justin Rodda.
Northwestern’s defense stiffened in the second half and the Falcons continued to hurt themselves with penalties, collecting 15 penalties for a total of 120 yards on the night. The majority of the penalties were illegal procedure calls, which may have partly been because of the change in quarterbacks, but Cerco wasn’t accepting any excuses.
“We didn’t control the things that we can control, like the penalties,” said Cerco. “You have to hand it to them, because they didn’t hurt themselves and they took advantage of our miscues. Those penalties are on us and are things that we can control and we have to do better at that.”
After three quarters, Northwestern led 31-10. Stephens continued to lead the Falcons’ offense down the field and hit Parton for a 12-yard completion to make it 31-17, but Northwestern answered when Bollinger threw his fifth touchdown pass of the night to finish off Salisbury.
“Overall, I was happy with the effort,” said Cerco. “It was just the penalties and the miscues that really hurt us.”
Parton pulled in six passes for 175 yards in the game, leading all receivers. The Falcons were held to just 48 yards rushing on the night, led by 15 yards from Tim Buda.
Salisbury returns home Friday night to host Wilson, which beat Palisades 15-12 this past Saturday.