SHICKSHINNY – Northwest saved its best for the final quarter, scoring 21 points to defeat Hanover Area 34-13 on Friday night in a Wyoming Valley Conference Division 2A-A game.
At the end of three quarters with the score was knotted 13-13, the Rangers turned to their senior running back Tony Politz to provide an offensive lift.
Politz broke the tie with 11:05 left in the game on a 17-yard run up the middle. The touchdown capped a seven-play, 89-yard drive that started with 1:20 remaining in the third.
"When the line gives me a chance to get past the first line of defense, I'm confident in my vision to be able to go all the way," Politz said.
Politz rushed for 140 yards on 19 carries and three touchdowns.
"Politz is a special kid," Northwest coach Carl Majer said. "We can make it tough on defenses when they have to worry about both Politz and (Austin) Mazonkey."
The Northwest rushing attack made it mark early on a Politz touchdown with 8:25 left in the first quarter, but the Hawks were able to withstand the early blow by managing the clock with their own rushing arsenal.
Brian Belcher responded with a 1-yard touchdown run to cap a 14-play, 79-yard drive. The extra point gave Hanover Area the lead 7-6 with 58 seconds left in the first quarter. Belcher ran for 142 yard on 27 carries, as the ground-and-pound approach was able to kill all momentum Northwest gained early.
After the Hanover Area defense forced a punt midway through the second quarter, the Hawks continued to look to Belcher, who marched his team down the field before Dillon Ropietski finished off the drive with a 1-yard touchdown run with 25 seconds left in the half, giving the Hawks a 13-6 lead.
On the ensuing kickoff, Tyler Pegarella responded by returning the ball 65-yards down the left sideline, high-stepping to a touchdown with six seconds to go in the half. That turned the tide for the Rangers.
"I told the guys in the locker room that we need to raise our level of play," Majer said. "Especially the seniors. We needed to respond."
The Rangers defense held firm, although Hanover threatened for most of the third quarter as the Hawks took a nine-minute drive into Northwest territory.
NW – Tony Politz 4 run (kick failed), 8:25
HA – Brian Belcher 1 run (Matt Clemons kick), 0:58
HA – Dillon Roprietski 1 run (kick failed), 0:25
NW – Tyler Pegarella 65 kick return (Pegarella kick), 0:06
NW – Politz 17 run (Pegarella kick), 11:05
NW – Politz 8 run (Pegarella kick), 4:28
NW Austin Mazonkey 73 run (Pegarella kick), 1:17
RUSHING – HA: Brian Belcher 27-142, Dillon Ropietski 9-55, Ya'Sir Jones 2-6, Casey O'Mack 8-23, Steve Morgan 1-7; NW: Tony Politz 19-140, Austin Mazonkey 8-112, Logan Womelsdorf 1-(minus-5)
PASSING – HA: Casey O'Mack 5-10-2-39; NW: Logan Womelsdorf 3-7-0-46
RECEIVING – HA: Steve Morgan 1-16, Dylan Ropietski 1-9, Brian Belcher 2-(minus-1), Bradley George 1-15; NW: Nick Long 1-24, Eric Gurzinski 1-15, Tony Politz 1-7
INTS – NW: Jim Bigliomini, Nick Long
MISSED FGS – None