SUSQUEHANNA – Nick Long managed to get a foot down to stay in the end zone just long enough twice in the first 17 minutes Saturday afternoon.
The Northwest junior then got out of the end zone in a hurry after catching the ball midway through the third quarter.
Long’s two touchdown catches put the Rangers in front and his end-zone interception kept them there in a 12-7 victory over host Susquehanna.
“I thought it wasn’t going to be as close as it was,” Long said after helping the Rangers dominate early while building a 12-0 lead. “But, we still pulled it out.
“A win’s a win. All we have to do is keep improving.”
The Rangers escaped with a win by turning away the Sabers after they reached the 18 with a chance to go ahead in the third quarter.
Long made a quick move on a misfired pass, intercepting in the end zone while running forward, then bringing the ball out to the 17.
The Sabers never moved across midfield again while gaining just one second-half first down against a bigger, stronger Rangers defense.
“The defense was impressive,” said Matt Zlotek, who was in the second of his two games as acting head coach for Northwest while Carl Majer served a suspension for the use of an ineligible player last season.
The strength upfront was also a factor offensively when Northwest racked up statistical advantages of 9-0 in first downs, 126-9 in rushing yards and 178-12 in total offense over the first 16:12 for the 12-point lead.
Austin Mazonkey, who finished with 173 yards on 29 carries, was already over 100 yards rushing at that point. Mazonkey took on an extra workload with James Burger slowed by a minor injury.
“Austin’s a tough runner,” Zlotek said. “He knows where to run and he runs over people.”
The teams played on nearly even terms the rest of the way as Susquehanna made a run at getting first-year coach Kyle Cook his first win.
Northwest scored on two of its first three possessions.
Mazonkey had runs of 12, 13 and 27 yards to set up Long’s 15-yard touchdown catch from Logan Womelsdorf. Long was wide open behind two defenders in the right, back of the end zone and just had to be sure to secure the ball while getting one foot down in-bounds.
The second score came on fourth-and-six from the 8 in the second quarter when Womelsdorf lobbed a pass to the back, left corner of the end zone over a defender. Long went up in the air and came down with the ball for the touchdown.
“It was over his head,” said Long, who caught six passes for 62 yards. “I really didn’t think I was going to stay in-bounds because it was pretty far back, but I got one foot down.”
Susquehanna answered with a 60-yard scoring drive in which Austin White carried four times for 27 yards and completed three passes. The touchdown came when Austin Darrow pulled in a 17-yarder while falling to his back after tipping the ball up in the air twice.
“It’s frustrating to be 0-2 when we’ve had a chance to win the game both weeks,” Cook said.
Northwest has won twice by a total of nine points while Susquehanna has suffered a pair of five-point losses.
Northwest 12, Susquehanna 7
NW – Long 15 pass from Womelsdorf (kick failed), 7:26
NW – Long 8 pass from Womelsdorf (run failed), 7:48
S – Darrow 17 pass from White (Jesse kick), 2:41
RUSHING — NW, Mazonkey 29-173, Schecterley 5-13, Womelsdorf 7-13, Burger 4-5, Long 1-4, Team 2-minus 4. SUS, White 10-45, Hepler 8-14, Murnock 3-9, Felter 2-4.
PASSING — NW, Womelsdorf 8-9-0-71. SUS, White 5-12-1, 43.
RECEIVING — NW, Long 6-62, Gurzynski 1-10, Mazonkey 1-minus 1. SUS, Darrow 2-23, Monks 1-13, Stanley 1-4, Murnock 1-3.
INTERCEPTIONS — NW, Long.
MISSED FGs — None.