Hawks hang on to beat Hornets 28-21
The first seven minutes of last Friday night’s game couldn’t have gone much better for Emmaus. But the next 41 minutes were a different story.
After taking a 14-0 lead just over halfway through the first quarter, Emmaus saw Bethlehem Catholic battle back with three unanswered first-half scores to take a lead before holding on for a 28-21 win.
“We didn’t execute,” said Emmaus head coach Harold Fairclough. “We watched film and we prepared, but we didn’t make plays when we needed to. They’re good. We knew that. If you don’t execute when you’re facing a good team…they make explosive plays.”
Nearly all of the Golden Hawks scores came on explosive plays.
The Hornets took the lead when marched 58 yards in six plays on their opening drive, capped by Sone Ntoh’s 25-yard touchdown run with 9:05 left in the first quarter.
After a 10-play Bethlehem Catholic drive stalled on downs at the Emmaus 30-yard line, the Hornets went picked up the pace and went to a no-huddle offense. Four plays into the possession Deonte Castro took a Blake Reed pass 42 yards for a touchdown and a 14-0 lead with 5:47 left in the first period.
But from there the Beca defense seemed to get stronger. It forced four punts and two turnovers on Emmaus’ next six possessions while the Hawk offense started to get in rhythm.
Bethlehem Catholic quarterback Javon Clements found Daizhun Rhodes for a 78-yard touchdown reception late in the first quarter to get his team within one score.
After Emmaus lost a fumble at it’s own 10-yard line, Tavion Banks (33 carries, 147 yards) ran in for a 10-yard touchdown to tie the game at 14-14 with 5:54 left in the first half.
A 58-yard interception return for a touchdown from Shamus Williams put Beca ahead 21-14 with 1:15 left in the first half.
Emmaus answered on it’s first possession of the second half, going 70 yards in six plays, capped by Reed’s 25-yard touchdown run just a minute and 45 seconds into the second half.
The Hawks finally answered in the fourth quarter when Zahir Seabrooks broke free for a 69-yard touchdown run with 6:09 left in the game.
“Defensively we played pretty decent in the second half we just gave up one big run for a touchdown,” said Fairclough. “We’re capable of doing it. We just have to do it consistently, stop the run and not give up those big plays that allow teams right back in the game in close games.”
Ntoh, who is fulfilling a larger role with backfield mate Lubens Myers injured, ran for 154 yards on 24 carries in the game.
“He did break that one for a touchdown,” said Bethlehem Catholic head coach Joe Henrich. “Our goal was not to give up those 40-, 50- or 60-yard touchdown runs. I couldn’t care less about yardage. It’s about score. It’s about field position. We were able to do those things and I thought after the beginning we really settled down defensively and did a better job.”
The Hornets suffer their second straight loss after falling to Whitehall last week.
“Our goals are still in front of us,” said Fairclough. “We’ve just got to stay together as a family. We can’t listen to outside people pick our program apart now that we lost two in a row, two close ones to two good teams. We’ve just got to continue working hard to get better and correct mistakes moving forward.”
Emmaus’ past two opponents were both district champs last season as Whitehall won the Class 5A bracket and Bethlehem Catholic was the Class 4A champ. The next two opponents are not quite of that caliber as the Hornets travel to Pocono Mountain West this Saturday before hosting Northampton on Sept. 22.
Fairclough said Myers is day-to-day and is making progress. The team “misses him everywhere,” according to the second-year Hornet head coach. Myers played cornerback, returned punts and running back, usually alternating possessions with Ntoh.