Football drops game to Nazareth
It was some self-inflicted wounds that contributed to Whitehall’s loss to Nazareth last Friday at Zephyr Stadium, dimming their prospects of a district playoff berth in the process.
The Zephyrs committed four turnovers with two of those resulting in Nazareth scores, but the real backbreaker came in the second quarter as Whitehall was mounting a drive, arriving in Blue Eagle territory thanks to a Joe Herman catch that got the ball to the 39-yard-line. On the next play, Chad Hussett broke loose, bolting for the end zone. His touchdown appeared to cut Nazareth’s 14-0 lead in half, but the play was called back for illegal formation.
The Zephs overcame that setback and continued to march down the field, with Herman once again providing a clutch reception, this time using his size to go up and snatch the ball as Logan Grom was draped all over him.
That play helped put the Zephs on the doorstep as they eventually made it to the 2-yard-line with another chance to halve the deficit. But a lost fumble halted the drive and with it their chance to swing the momentum in their favor.
Nazareth parlayed that turnover into six points, marching 95 yards for the score as Eagle quarterback Anthony Harris hit Nathan Stefanik for a 32-yard touchdown.
It was a 14-point swing, and that series proved pivotal for the Blue Eagles who posted a 28-7 victory over Whitehall on its homecoming weekend.
Head coach Justin Kondikoff applauded his team’s effort and said that they’re battling every time they take the field.
“The kids are still working hard,” said Kondikoff. “They’ve been great.”
Kondikoff said that he bears the blame for the loss.
“I didn’t have them ready,” said Kondikoff. “We have to find a way to win the game, and those things are on me. If they’re not finding a way, I’ll take the blame for that.”
The Zephyrs were still in the district 5A playoff mix before the game, but the loss to Nazareth muddies that a little bit. They’re now 1-7, and a look at the power rankings as of Oct. 14 has them at the sixth spot among the seven 5A members. There are four postseason spots up for grabs, and each team above them in the ranking currently has four wins.
Kondikoff said that it’s still conceivable they could make the playoff with three wins, providing they post victories against Liberty and Northampton in their final two games. It all depends on other outcomes.
Anthony Nanoah finished the game 7-19 for 181 yards and a touchdown. His TD toss came on a 49-yard strike to Allen Negrete. He now has 196 yards and 11 TDs on the season.
Negrete continues to be lethal every time he gets his hands on the ball. The junior finished the game with five catches for 126 yards, including that 49-yard touchdown catch and run that left Blue Eagle defenders in the dust. Negrete now has 606 receiving yards this season, including six TDs.
Chad Hussett was the games leading rusher, finishing with 57 yards. He now has 350 yards on the season.
Joe Herman caught two passes for 55 yards, and the senior now has 13 catches for 355 yards.
Nazareth got on the board late in the first quarter as Kyle Paccio bolted into the end zone from two yards out to make it 7-0. Their next score came through the air as Harris hit Nick Viva for a 10-yard touchdown. Harris finished the game 24-41 for 385 yards, including three TDs.
Kondikoff said that his team kept plugging away the whole game, trying to cut into Nazareth’s lead.
“We didn’t give up, and that’s kind of the Zephyr way, and that’s what Whitehall does,” said Kondikoff. “We’re not going to have that mentality where we’re going to give up.”
He said that they’re guaranteed two more weeks, and they’re going to work hard in order to achieve those two victories.