Bug­bee shows why he’s tops

He throws two TDs, runs in an­other as Nazareth stays un­beaten with win over Free­dom

The Morning Call - - Sports - By Keith Groller

One of the most an­tic­i­pated matchups of the ab­bre­vi­ated East­ern Penn­syl­va­nia Con­fer­ence foot­ball sea­son didn’t turn out as planned Fri­day night at Beth­le­hem Area School District Sta­dium.

It was not only a bat­tle of un­beat­ens and the last two District 11 Class 6A cham­pi­ons, but it was also a meet­ing of the No. 8 ranked team in the state in 6A this year, Nazareth, and No. 10 Free­dom.

But one team played with the quar­ter­back it has had all sea­son and the other was forced to go with some­one who­had not played be­fore.

That was per­haps the key to the Blue Ea­gles’ 21-7 vic­tory.

Se­nior Matt Bug­bee, who en­tered the game as the lead­ing passer in the EPC, threw for two touch­downs and ran for an­other. Hewas 17 for 26 pass­ing for 266 yards.

Mean­while, the Pa­tri­ots had to go with sopho­more Ethan Nei­dig at quar­ter­back af­ter ju­nior Brian Tay­lor, who played quar­ter­back in the team’s wins over Northamp­ton and Eas­ton, was ruled in­el­i­gi­ble be­cause of a res­i­dency is­sue.

Con­sid­er­ing he didn’t prac­tice as the starter un­til Wed­nes­day, Nei­dig did well. He was 13 for 23 pass­ing for 146 yards and alate TDand ran seven times for 21 yards.

“That’s a difficult thing for them to deal with ob­vi­ously,” Nazareth coach Tom Fal­zone said. “Coach [Ja­son] Roeder is a great coach and we knew he’d have his guys fired up and ready to play. We­knowtheski­ll they have and the strength they have up front. I’m proud of the ef­fort the kids gave tonight. They played some gutsy de­fense and held that zero on the score­board for a long time un­til we coughed one up at the end.”

Bug­bee threw TD passes to Joe Capo­bianco and Jaiden Cabr­era and also scored on a short run as Nazareth im­proved to 4-0 over­all, 3-0 in the EPC Northamp­ton Di­vi­sion.

“At first we came out a lit­tle slow, but then we picked it up and just played our game how we know and how we love to play,” said Cabr­era, who­had seven catches for 117 yards. “You have to give big props to our of­fen­sive line for giv­ing [Bug­bee] enough time to scram­ble and find me so I can make a big play.”

Cabr­era said that re­gard­less of who played quar­ter­back for the Pa­tri­ots, the op­po­nent still fea­tured a qual­ity de­fense that held Eas­ton score­less for the fi­nal 35 min­utes of a 21-10 win last week.

“We just needed to ex­e­cute and get the job done on of­fense,” Cabr­era said. “Them hav­ing a new quar­ter­back didn’t mean any­thing. We fo­cused on stop­ping [Matt] Russin and the run game. We just had to be phys­i­cal and punch them in the mouth.”

The Blue Ea­gles moved quickly down the field with its first pos­ses­sion, get­ting a 31-yard com­ple­tion from Bug­bee to Cabr­era to the Free­dom 7. How­ever, the drive stalled there and Bug­bee missed a 26-yard field goal at­tempt.

Two pos­ses­sions later, he was ac­cu­rate with a 59-yard TD pass to Capo­bianco for the game’s first points.

The Pa­tri­ots tried to an­swer with a drive set up by a par­tially blocked punt. Tak­ing over at the Nazareth 26, Free­dom man­aged a first-and­goal at the 6.

The Blue Ea­gles tight­ened up from there and Alek­sander Kwiatek in­ter­cepted a pass in the end zone and ran it out to the 11.

That set up an 11-play, 89-yard drive high­lighted by a 40-yard pass from Bug­bee to Cabr­era to the Free­dom 20. Three plays later, Bug­bee leaped into the end zone and then added the PAT to make it 14-0 at half­time.

The Pa­tri­ots were held to 80 yards in the first half, 26 of them com­ing from Russin on 10 car­ries.

Nazareth ex­tended the lead to 21-0 on its first pos­ses­sion of the sec­ond half when Bug­bee hit Cabr­era for a 34-yard TD pass.

Free­dom had sev­eral chances to get on the board with three con­sec­u­tive drives into Nazareth ter­ri­tory. Two of the pos­ses­sions ended on fourth down and an­other con­cluded with a Capo­bianco fum­ble re­cov­ery.

Fi­nally, the Pa­tri­ots got on the board one play af­ter a Mar­cus Krei­dler fum­ble re­cov­ery as Nei­dig found Owen John­son-McCormick for a 27-yard strike with four min­utes left to avert the shutout.

“I amex­tremely proud of the way [Ethan] han­dled him­self and the way he played,” Roeder said. “He’s got a bright fu­ture ahead of him. He did a great job.”

Roeder said his de­fense gave up way too many ex­plo­sive plays.

“We’ll look at the film, keep our kids to­gether and get it fixed,” he said.

“We’re go­ing to turn the page.”

King and queen

Free­dom an­nounced its Home­com­ing king and queen at half­time.

Foot­ball player Jeremiah Espinosa, a tight end and line­backer, was named the king and bas­ket­ball player Jewel Levy was hon­ored as the queen.

What’s next

Both teams re­turn to BASD Sta­dium next week­end. Nazareth plays Lib­erty at 7 p.m. Fri­day and Free­dom faces Beth­le­hem Catholic at 3 p.m. Satur­day. All five of the Pa­tri­ots reg­u­lar-sea­son games are at BASD Sta­dium.

DOU­GLAS KILPATRICK/SPECIALTO THE MORN­ING CALL

Nazareth quar­ter­back Richard Bug­bee, left, and Jaiden Cabr­era cel­e­brate a touch­down against Free­dom.

DOU­GLAS KILPATRICK/SPECIALTOT­MC

Nazareth’s Jaiden Cabr­era brings in a long pass, set­ting up the sec­ond Nazareth’s TD in this EPC“Bat­tle of the Un­beat­ens”Fri­day night at Beth­le­hem Area School District Sta­dium.

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