North Hills' defense comes up with big plays in win over Butler
TribLIVE Sports Videos
North Hills found a simple solution for a stifled offense.
“When you put a zero on the board, that makes it so much easier for the offense,” said North Hills' Josh Hulbert, who returned an interception 30 yards for a touchdown Friday night, the highlight of a strong defensive effort by the Indians in a 14-0 victory over Butler at Martorelli Stadium.
A 20-yard run by quarterback Brian Johnson gave North Hills the lead on its first possession, which was the only time the offense moved inside Butler 29-yard line. But the Indians' defense made that lead stand with tackles for loss, two forced turnovers and a few timely sacks.
“It's just a good feeling for the defense,” Hulbert said.
Butler had its chances and usually good field position.
The Golden Tornado moved 78 yards on the game's opening drive, including a 34-yard run by quarterback Jordan Cratty and a 19-yard pass to wideout Canan Roskovski. But facing first-and-goal at the 1, tailback Kolby Kriess was hit hard and fumbled through the end zone for a touchback.
That sparked North Hills' defense.
“That's big momentum when you get the first score,” Hulbert said. “I'm glad we were able to stop them there. That carried us.”
Butler ran 31 first-half plays, and 26 took place in North Hills territory.
One drive started at North Hills' 43. Another at North Hills' 40. But both stalled when Cratty was tackled for large losses — 17 and 14 yards — by Anthony Danko, Brandon Malick and Elliot King.
Hulbert's interception came with 10:58 left in the fourth, followed by a key sack from Max Ungerman and a tackle for loss by Corey Bopp on Butler's final play.
Butler had more first downs (16-9), offensive plays (57-39) and total yards (215-195), but North Hills (3-1, 2-1) grabbed the Quad North win. The Indians, who missed the postseason a year ago, are trying to prove their playoff worth again.
Tyler Reddick, who missed last week with an injury, rushed for 92 yards on 13 carries. Hulbert had 82 on 15.
Despite a two-touchdown loss, Butler (2-2, 2-2) came away with added confidence. A year ago, the Golden Tornado were blown away by North Hills, 38-0. This time, in their second season under coach Clyde Conti, they were far more competitive.
Minus the 31 yards in losses, Cratty rushed for 97 yards.
“I'm still proud of our effort,” Conti said. “We've come a long way from where we were. We've come an awful long way.”
Butler hasn't had winning record since 1997, but Hulbert saw a much different team than a season ago. Already, Butler has two Quad North wins, which ended a 28-game conference losing streak.
“They were a lot more team-oriented,” he said. “They seemed like they knew what to do. They played hard, but we played harder.”
With 5:34 left in the first quarter, Johnson's weaving run gave North Hills a 7-0 lead. The touchdown ended a seven-play, 80-yard drive.
Chris Harlan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-380-5666.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- South Fayette football team distributes Steelers tickets to Carlynton, Wilkinsburg
- 2014 Valley News Dispatch football all-stars
- Through the years: Bell-Avon rings out in program’s finale
- Close loss in title game cannot diminish Clairton’s ‘great season’
- High school football lifts spirits in Western Pennsylvania’s former industrial towns
- Gorman: South Fayette has a ‘No Fly’ zone
- Gorman: Central Valley’s life after death
- Gorman: Gastion goes deep for Pine-Richland
- High school notebook: Records tumble during PIAA football title games
- High school notebook: WPIAL adjusts to accommodate Armstrong merger