Football scores huge win over Nazareth
Not many people gave Emmaus a chance.
But the Hornets didn't pay any attention to the outside noise when they traveled to Nazareth High School's Andrew S. Leh Stadium to take on the Blue Eagles last Friday night.
After the Blue Eagles went up 7-0 early in the second quarter, the Hornets responded just seconds later. Sophomore running back Wyllim Miller took the ensuing kickoff back 85 yards for a touchdown, leading to a string of 28 consecutive points and en route to a 35-14 victory.
"We just gave it 100 percent," said Miller. "We just need to keep going 100 percent every game and finish the season off."
Down by three touchdowns in the early moments of the fourth quarter, the Blue Eagles go to within 28-14 with 9:27 to play. And after the Emmaus offense turned the ball over on four downs on their next possession, the Blue Eagles' offense had a chance at cutting the deficit even more.
But a valiant effort from the Hornet defense, capped off by sacks on third and fourth down from sophomore Andrew Davidson and senior Micah Fick, forced Nazareth into a turnover on downs with minutes to play.
Senior Jacob Maehrer then recovered an Andrew Kerson fumble in the end zone for his second touchdown of the game that all but sealed the win for the Hornets.
"We just thought we could out-physical them," said Fick. "So we came into the game and we just went after them."
After punts on their first three drives of the game, the Hornets scored touchdowns on four on their next five drives after Miller's kickoff return. They ran out the clock on their final drive, and weren't forced into another punt the rest of the game.
"They got some confidence and they started making their blocks and we started connecting," said head coach Joe Bottiglieri of the offense. "It was really nice to see our offense get in rhythm."
Maehrer scored on a three-yard end-around touchdown with just 51 seconds left in the first half. A strong stand by the Hornet defense on the Blue Eagles ensuing drive kept Nazareth off the scoreboard before intermission.
"We told our defense - no matter what the score is [and] no matter what the situation - you got to stop them," said Bottiglieri. "And tonight they did that on several occasions. They rose to the occasion and they did a good job."
Kerson then hooked up with junior wideout Kyzir White on a 33-yard touchdown pass to make it 20-7 nearly midway through the third quarter, and Miller scored on a four-yard run early in the fourth to make it 28-7.
The Blue Eagles were known for their high-scoring offense that put up just over 35 points per game in their previous seven LVC games. But it was the Hornet defense stealing the show on Friday night, holding the Blue Eagles to a season-low 14 points.
"We'll look at the film, but from a sideline vantage point I thought our defense did a good job because Nazareth is very explosive on offense," said Bottiglieri.
"It shows how physical our defense can be, and how we run to the ball," added Fick.
Kerson completed 7-of-12 passes for 131 yards and a touchdown, while White led the way with 74 yards and a score through the air. Kerson (32 rushing yards), Miller (31 rushing yards) and sophomore Dan Velasco (29 rushing yards) paced the Hornets in the running game.
The win ends a brief two-game skid for the Hornets, who are ensured a .500 record or better for the season. Up next for Emmaus is Parkland in their regular season finale. The Hornets will host the Trojans on Friday night at 7 p.m.
"That definitely helps when you come on the road and you get a win against a quality team like Nazareth," said Bottiglieri. "They're well coached and they've got good talent. We were very fortunate [and] the kids played hard."