NU hurt by penalties during setback


Carson Smith (5) of North Union jukes his way past members of the Swanton Bulldogs during the opening week of Friday night football. The Wildcats beat the Bulldogs in the stat books, but had trouble getting in the end zone, leading to a 13-7 loss.
(Submitted photo)

The Friday night lights have finally turned on and blazed on high school football fields around the state. North Union is still waiting for its moment in the spotlight after suffering a week one defeat to Swanton, 13-7.
The Wildcats’ spirits were high going into the game as coach Nick Hajjar felt they had a firm understanding of what the Bulldogs were going to bring to the field.
Unfortunately, Swanton also had a firm grasp on what the Wildcats were going to do as well.
On paper, the Wildcats won the game, amassing 249 total yards versus the Bulldogs’ 117. North Union beat Swanton in nearly every category except for the one that counts at the end of the game … the score.
It didn’t start that way. The Wildcats kicked off first and got the ball back after four short plays.
NU used its running game to move the ball early, but a fumble ended the drive around mid-field. The back-and-forth continued throughout the first quarter, resulting in a 0-0 stalemate.
The deadlock did not last for long. North Union couldn’t do much with the ball early in the second and had to punt it away after going four-and-out.
Swanton took over at the 50 and went on a six-play run, capping it off with a sweep to the left for a 25- yard touchdown by Hunter Mix. Anthony Howard poked it through the uprights to give the Bulldogs a 7-0 lead.
North Union made a good argument when it started a drive from its own eight-yard line. The Cats brought it out to the 40 before the drive stalled, leading to a punt. Anthony Padovano took the snap and a few purple and white jerseys broke through the line to block the attempted kick. The Bulldogs scooped up the ball and returned it to North Union’s 21-yard line. Two plays later, the Bulldogs finished their second trip to the end zone.
“Our kids played hard, that is one good thing I can say,” said Hajjar. “Obviously, there was a lot of things that we did that killed ourselves, if it was penalties, if it was blocked punts, turnovers, whatever that was. We just didn’t do enough to win the game tonight.”
A bad snap during the PAT attempt led to a bad kick, putting the score at 13-0 for Swanton.
North Union got the ball back with just over two minutes left in the half and the Wildcats did something they are not known for. . . throwing the ball.
“We feel like we have the ability to do different things,” said Hajjar. “It is just picking and choosing the right time when and when not to do that (pass). We just shot ourselves in the foot numerous times tonight.”
A pass from Padovano to Garrett Miller drew a foul for roughing the passer that brought the Wildcats out to the 31-yard-line. The passing trend continued as the clock ticked down to 27 seconds remaining in the half and with 40 yards left to go.
Padovano took the snap and saw the 6-4 Harley Day with a step on his coverage. The throw floated down over Day’s shoulder for a reception less then 10 yards from the goal line. Day cruised in for the Wildcats’ first TD of the game. Drake Price’s kick sailed through the uprights to put the game at 13-7 going into halftime.
“I thought he (Padovano) did some really good things tonight,” said Hajjar. “For him, it is going to be continued growth each and every game, just like every player.”
The second half was a see-saw battle with a lot of penalties (21 in total, for 170 yards) between the two teams. The third quarter was back to a defensive showcase with no additional points scored.
Toward the end of the game, Swanton made a push to score when penalty trouble started backing up the ball. Two back-to-back personal fouls moved the ball up from the North Union 30-yard line to Swanton’s own 45-yard line. The deficit was too large to move the sticks, resulting in a punt with nearly 1:30 left in the game.
The Bulldogs’ punter struggled with the kick that traveled a meager 18 yards, giving North Union good field position with 1:33 left.
The Cats switched back to the passing game that got them their first touchdown.
Three consecutive passes to Day moved the ball 30 yards in 30 seconds. The drive hit a bump in the road with a few incomplete passes, producing a fourth-and-eight situation.
Padovano hit a strike to Carson Smith across the middle to collect the first down. However, a holding penalty followed by a false start killed the drive and resulted in a fourth-and-a-mile passing attempt with 25 ticks of the clock remaining.
“We gave ourselves a chance at the end and then once again, we had a penalty that was a real drive-killer,” added Hajjar”
Padovano reared back and let go of the ball. The offering was intercepted, ending the Cats’ chance at a victory.
“Our kids played hard, that is one good thing I can say,” said Hajjar. “Obviously, there was a lot of things that we did that killed ourselves, if it was penalties, if it was blocked punts, turnovers, whatever that was. We just didn’t do enough to win the game tonight.”
North Union will take on Triad for their week two opponent.
North Union 0 7 0 0 7
Swanton 0 13 0 0 13
North Union
Passing- Padovano 9-16, 102 yards, one interception
Rushing- Miller 18 att., 88 yards; Smith 12 att., 49 yards, one fumble
Receiving-Day four rec., 67 yards, one TD; Smith four rec., 34 yards.
Passing-Gilsdorf 3-4, 17 yards
Rushing-Pachlhorf 10 att., 48 yards, one TD; Lawniczak 15 att., 33 yards; Mix seven att., 29 yards, one TD
Receiving-Pachlhofer, one rec., seven yards.


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