Notre Dame Football Live

Notre Dame football turns to the run in victory at Saucon Valley

With former quarterback Phil Stambaugh in charge, the Notre Dame football team has become known for airing the ball out.

  • 8/26 – 7:00 PM FootballFinalNotre Dame-Green Pond41Saucon Valley34

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But on Friday night in a high-scoring season opener, the Crusaders decided to also churn out some yards and points via the ground en route to a 41-34 road win over Saucon Valley.

Junior Josh Ludlow rushed for 151 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries behind the Crusaders’ offensive line, which includes his older brother Mason Ludlow.

“Kid’s tough as nails,” Crusaders coach Phil Stambaugh said of Josh Ludlow. “Does everything we ask him to do. He doesn’t make a sound. He works, works, works as hard as he can every day. Very proud of his effort. And the offensive line. We don’t ever run the ball that many times and to be able to do that is a credit to those kids.”

“I think we’re changing the narrative a little,” Notre Dame junior quarterback Dan Darno said. “I think the O-line, they’ve taken some crap. Same with our defense. I think we showed that we can be physical tonight and run the ball.”

Darno, who completed 14 of 21 passes for 163 yards and a touchdown, also racked up 72 yards and a pair of scores on 15 rushes.

Josh Ludlow put Notre Dame ahead 19-7 with 2:48 left in the second quarter when he used some nice footwork to stay in bounds and then score on a 20-yard touchdown run. The junior running back then hauled in a 65-yard touchdown pass from Darno with one minute left in the second quarter. Darno ran in the two-point conversion and Notre Dame took a 20-point lead into halftime.

Ludlow’s second rushing touchdown of the night came from four yards away with 8:34 left in the fourth quarter and stopped some Saucon Valley momentum by putting Notre Dame ahead 34-20.

“Just the O-line blocking,” Ludlow said. “They give me a hole, I’m going to run through it and gain yards. Thanks to them. Good coaching scheme. Coach Phil is amazing.”

The Crusaders junior running back had a huge play on special teams in the final minutes of the second half as he broke free for a 91-yard kickoff return to set up Darno’s 3-yard touchdown run that gave the visitors a 41-27 lead with 2:06 remaining.

“I think it was at the 5,” Ludlow said about picking up the kickoff. “I looked, I saw a big opening and I just ran. Made some people miss. I thought I scored, but I guess I didn’t score.”

Saucon Valley cut the deficit back down to one possession when senior quarterback Travis Riefenstahl found sophomore Jared Rohn for a 31-yard touchdown pass with 1:18 remaining in the fourth quarter.

Notre Dame junior Dainn Vasallo, who also ran for a 7-yard touchdown in the second quarter, recovered the ensuing onside kick. The Crusaders then picked up a pair of first downs to secure the wild victory.

“We just had to fight through adversity,” Darno said about answering Saucon Valley’s comeback attempt. “We talked about that this whole week. Fighting through adversity when a team comes back and you just got to keep going.”

Ludlow also caught three passes for 82 yards and a touchdown for the Crusaders.

Riefenstahl completed nine of 16 passes for 184 yards and four touchdowns. The Saucon Valley senior also rushed for 75 yards on 16 carries.

Panthers senior Alex Magnotta caught three passes for 38 yards with all of the receptions going for scores.

Sophomore Jack Robertson had four catches for 101 yards for Saucon Valley, which will look to bounce back when it hosts Salisbury on Friday night.

“We battled. We played very hard,” Panthers coach Brad Trembler said. “We hurt ourselves way too much in the first half. Opening drive, fumble. They turn the ball over, we turn it right back over inside their 30. We give up an 80-yard touchdown on an out route with 50 seconds left in the half. We give up a touchdown on a kickoff return. We’re not aligning defensively. If we can just take care of basic stuff, I think we’re going to be pretty good.”

The Crusaders will look to start the season 2-0 on Friday night in their home opener against Southern Lehigh.

“I’m happy that they stuck together and got the win,” Stambaugh said. “I just told them, situational football, we need to get a lot better. But I’m proud of the effort. Offensive line did outstanding. I thought we made the plays we needed to make.”

We changed up our game in the second half and ran the ball a lot,” Stambaugh added. “We made a lot of mistakes to hurt ourselves. Situational football. To start the second half, we had a bad snap. Can’t do those things. We gave them all the momentum coming out of half. But I am proud of those kids because a lot of the kids on the field were winning a varsity football game for the first time.”

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