Have you ever felt turf squish beneath your paws? It isn’t much fun.
You’d think with a striking likeness near and dear to my heart at center field at Northrop, someone could have at least loved me enough to get me some galoshes.
Then again, we all knew what we were getting into on Friday night at Spuller Stadium didn’t we? In and out of the game, everything that we expected came to fruition. It was chilly, windy, rainy, squishy and we got a hard nosed football game with two of the city’s most storied programs.
When the final second ticked off the clock, it was Bishop Dwenger who were named the winners by way of having more points, 14-7. There was no Summit Athletic Conference title on the line, but there also was more than just pride at stake. Both teams are preparing for what comes week 10 and, hopefully, beyond. And both teams showed strengths that are going to be important, especially on the defensive side of the ball.
The Saints held the Panthers to 33 points less than their season average. Snider’s seven points Friday night is the second time in the last two seasons that the Panthers have been held to single digits by an SAC opponent; from 2010-2017, Snider was held under 10 pts by SAC opponents zero times. Nick Pezley led Snider’s defense with nine and a half tackles and Gianini Belizaire added nine of his own. Gage Renbarger led Bishop Dwenger with six tackles while Lucas Krohn and Devon Tippmann each added five.
On offense, the now solidly number two team in the SAC kept grinding, as they do, with a trio of Tippmanns in Devon, Louis and KJ all taking turns pressuring a Snider defense that wasn’t really ready to bend too far. Despite all of the points from both teams coming in the first half, it was the defense from that segment of the game that was the best in my big eyes.
Patrick Finley of Bishop Dwenger set up the first score of the game with a 24 yard run on fourth down. It allowed Devon Tippmann to scamper in from a yard out with 2:18 left in the first. Then, when the Saints had the ball again, Snider’s defense came up big on a fumble recovery by Donovan Eley at the Bishop Dwenger 29 yard line.
Lenny Bennett then out sprinted every Saint as he rambled to the right for a 29 yard touchdown run. But the Saints immediately put themselves in a position to take a lead that they would never lose. After the Bennett touchdown, Patrick O’Keefe returned the ensuing kickoff 58 yards, setting up another eventual one yard score by Louis Tippmann with 4:15 left in the half.
Devon Tippmann – who one of my bear-esque media friends asked me before the game why he wasn’t as featured as expected lately – ran for 57 yards on 14 attempts while Louis Tippmann had 55 yards rushing on 15 attempts, KJ Tippmann ran for 33 yards and Finley added 46 yards rushing.
Both teams threatened in the second half despite a scoreless third quarter. Bennett made big strides at times, especially on a 34 yard gain before an out route to Jade Moore got Snider into the red zone. But on fourth and five from the Saints’ 15 yard line, the defense shined again with John Michael Fabini knocking down a Barnes pass attempt.
And while Snider’s defense wasn’t in any way shabby on the night, you have to give credit to Bishop Dwenger for making adjustments when the Panthers didn’t. They found success in rolling Brenden Lytle out left and attacking the weak side while Snider, at times, over committed on the strong side. Multiple times, the Saints found success in faking a toss sweep, leading to a play action roll out to that weak side by Lytle.
With eight minutes left in the final quarter, KJ Tippmann coughed up the ball and again, it was Eley that made another big play, scooping up the loose ball as the Saints tried to grind out the clock.
Snider used one of their final offensive chances up by combining some power and finesse running from both Bennett, who ran for 112 yards, and Jon Barnes, but an ill timed penalty for an illegal man down the field cracked the Panther momentum. The Saints stopped Snider with 6:44 left in the final quarter but finally slowing Bennett on a big fourth down play with first contact from Jordan Watercutter.
The Saints looked to be stalled late, but a pass interference on third down against Jayshawn Underwood greatly improved Bishop Dwenger’s field position. I’m not allowed to question officials, I’ve been told so by enough people, but Blitz for one was impressed by the stride for stride battle between Underwood and Michael Ledo Jr. I wouldn’t have thrown a flag, but they also don’t give me flags so take that for what it is worth.
Snider did stop the Saints and Louis Tippmann on 4th and one with 2:46 to play, but had no timeouts to work with to make it 80 yards up the field. That didn’t slow Barnes, who went to the air comfortably and made a big play on third down to Andrew Sims down to the Bishop Dwenger 38 yard line before going to Alonzo Derrick across the middle for a second straight first down pass.
Snider wouldn’t advance past 27 yard line however as pressure forced Barnes to put up a pass to the end zone that was picked off by Howie Steele with 1:02 left in the game. That was it and Bishop Dwenger won the game we all had circled on our calendars long before this season started. But we learned so much more about both teams on Friday night and that is the real winner as the Saints and Panthers added another gutty, if not moist, chapter to their long rivalry at the top of the conference.
These opinions represent those of Blitz and Outside the Huddle. No opinions expressed on Outside the Huddle represent those of any of our advertisers. Follow Blitz on Twitter at Blitz_OTH