NAZARETH – With his team down two touchdowns in the fourth quarter, Dan Harding directed three Blue Eagles touchdown drives in the last 12 minutes of the game. Harding completed the comeback to stun the Red Rovers 35-28 at Andrew Leh Field Friday night in Nazareth. It was the first win over the Red Rovers since 1998.
The Blue Eagles got on the scoreboard first on their second drive. The Blue Eagles striked first. Harding hit Adam Bridgeforth for a 67-yard bomb for the score. Jack Portnoy’s extra point made it 7-0 Blue Eagles.
The Red Rovers answered the Blue Eagles drive by engineering a 73-yard, eight-play drive. Quarterback Ian Hayden found Zach Herres in the back of the end zone for the 17-yard touchdown pass. The game was tied at 7.
The second quarter saw the Red Rovers running game take over. James Middleton scored on an 84-yard run and Kevin Griffin plowed in from two-yards out. The Blue Eagles added one score on a Kani Camacho three-yard run.
At halftime the Red Rovers led 21-14. The first half the Red Rovers showed a nice balance by throwing for 112 yards and rushing for 213 yards. They had 12 first downs.
The Red Rovers took a commanding 28-14 lead in the third quarter on Griffin’s 12-yard run. The drive went 58 yards on five plays.
In the fourth quarter it would be all Blue Eagles. The comeback started early in the fourth quarter. Harding’s eight-yard score capped off an eight play, 78-yard drive, to cut the Red Rover lead to 28-21 with 11:36 remaining.
Nazareth’s defense came up with the big stop and got the ball back with 9:56 remaining. The Blue Eagles offense used a balanced attack during this drive, passing and rushing five times each as Harding finished off the drive hitting Dan Shepherd. Shepherd made an amazing catch fighting off the defender for a 17-yard touchdown pass. The score tied up the game at 28 with 6:21 remaining.
Shepherd’s interception ended another Red Rover drive late in the game. The Blue Eagles started on Easton’s 34-yard line with less than three minutes to go.
Harding finished off the go ahead drive with a one-yard run putting Nazareth up 35-28 with 1:33 remaining in the game.
The Red Rovers drove inside the 20-yard line. The drive ended on a fumble that was recovered by Nazareth. Nazareth held on for a 35-28 win over Easton.
The teams combined for over 1,000 yards of total offense. Easton had 535 total yards of offense and Nazareth had 480 total yards.
Harding led the way for Nazareth completing 19 of 29 passes for 312 yards and two scores. His favorite target was Adam Bridgeforth who caught six passes for 135 yards and one score. Freshman running back Jordan Gray added 101 yards rushing on 14 carries.
The Red Rovers Ian Hayden passed for 188 yards and James Middleton added 147 yards rushing.
Nazareth (2-0) travels to Bethlehem to take on (2-0) Liberty. Easton (1-1) hosts Northampton (0-2).