SLATINGTON, Pa. - C.J. Szydlik found two of his assistants in the middle of an emptying field at Northern Lehigh.
After the Neumann-Goretti football coach gave his postgame speech to his players, he said what he needed to. He just hugged the other coaches.
Saturday was almost a microcosm of the Saints' season. Neumann-Goretti started at 3-4 before winning its first Catholic League title since 1954 and a city championship.
This time, N-G wasn't able to come all the way back.
The Saints had the ball with a chance to take the lead despite trailing by 17 points at one time in the fourth quarter, but Dunmore hung on and earned a 30-18 victory in the PIAA Class AA quarterfinals.
"It'll set in in a couple months, when we realize what we accomplished," Szydlik said. "I hope the kids can understand that. What they accomplished was amazing. We were sitting at one point at 3-4 this season, and we turned around and won a championship and a city title."
Neumann-Goretti (9-5) won six straight games to get to the state quarterfinals against Dunmore (13-1). The Saints accomplished that by coming together.
"Looking at it as a team, we came from nothing," said Khalil Roane, who scored two rushing touchdowns. "The best part about that was we came together as a family."
At halftime, a fan yelled to the Saints' Aamir Brown that the second half would be easier for the sophomore after he had two carries for a loss of one yard in the first half. He was right.
Brown had five catches for 130 yards and a 43-yard run in the second half. He caught a 77-yard scoring pass and had 56 yards on a drive that led to Roane's 1-yard score that cut Dunmore's lead to 23-18 with 4 minutes, 34 seconds left.
"We kept each other up," Brown said. "We don't let each other pout. We just kept fighting."
Neumann-Goretti got a stop and had the ball with 2:20 left at its own 20, but on the first play of the drive, Dunmore's Justin Rogan intercepted a pass to clinch the win.
Despite the loss, Neumann-Goretti understands what it accomplished this season, and already has its eyes on where it can go.
"I take pride in this, because not many looked forward to coming to Neumann for football," Roane said. "Since we accomplished a league title and a city title, more people are going to want to come to the school because they see it's a good program.
"This just makes us hungrier. We know how this feeling feels. We just have to get back out there."
Dunmore 0 16 0 14 - 30
Neumann-Goretti 6 0 0 12 - 18
NG: Khalil Roane 26 run (pass failed)
D: Colin Holmes 5 run (Joey Capooci kick)
D: Garrett Murray 21 run (Capooci kick)
D: Holmes 24 run (Capooci kick)
NG: Aamir Brown 77 pass from Raymond Lenhart (pass failed)
NG: Roane 1 run (pass failed)
D: Murray 12 run (Capooci kick)