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Ohio Northern shuts down big-play offense of Otterbein, 35-7


September 23, 2017

By Tim Glon

ADA — Ohio Northern celebrated its Homecoming Weekend with a 35-7 football victory over Otterbein on a warm Saturday afternoon at Dial-Roberson Stadium.

The Polar Bears (2-1 overall, 1-1 Ohio Athletic Conference) used a dominating second half in the victory, holding the Cardinals (3-1, 2-1) to just 40 yards of total offense and one first down in the final 30 minutes.

Meanwhile the ONU offense would gain 243 yards of offense and score 22 points in the second half to put the game away.

Ohio Northern had several outstanding performances on the offensive side of the ball, led by junior quarterback Will Freed (Carlsbad, Calif./San Marcos), who completed 28-of-33 passes for 311 yards and 4 TDs.

Junior receiver Chad Rex (Bradenton, Fla./Lakewood Ranch) caught six passes for 140 yards and three of those TD passes and sophomore tailback Christiaan Williams (Anna) ran 32 times for 162 yards and a TD.

“We were very concerned about Otetrbein’s offense coming into the game,” ONU head coach Dean Paul said. “They hadn’t been stopped yet this year. We had a solid week of preparation and that carried over into the game. We tackled well and contained their skill people. Offensively, we played well for the most part, but missed some scoring opportunities. But overall this was a good win against a good team.”

The Polar Bears took the opening kickoff and marched 74 yards on 10 plays and scored when Williams plowed in from a yard out. Junior Joe French (Elgin, Ill./St. Edward Central Catholic) made the extra point and it was 7-0 ONU with 5:40 gone in the contest.

OU tied the game at 7-7 on its second possession of the game, driving 65 yards in eight plays and scoring on a 16-yard pass from Logan Stepp to Hunter Joseph with 56 seconds left in the opening period.

Northern took a 13-7 lead into intermission when Freed hit junior Brenden Hadley (Bradenton, Fla./Lakewood Ranch) on a 21-yard TD pass with just 20 seconds left in the half.

The second half would be all Polar Bears as ONU would limit the OU offense to five 3-and-outs and a 5-play drive that ended in an interception by sophomore Greg Dennis (Mount Vernon).

Freed hit Rex on an 8-yard TD pass with 7:11 left in the third quarter to make it 19-7. Freed then hit Rex again on the 2-point conversion and it was 21-7 Polar Bears.

After a short Cardinal punt, Northern marched 45 yards in just three plays and scored on a 43-yard TD strike from Freed to Rex and it was 28-7 with 3:45 left in the third.

Junior Caleb Saalfeld (Modesto, Calif./Beyer) returned a punt to the OU 39-yard line early in the fourth quarter.

It took ONU seven plays to score and a 15-yard TD pass from Freed to Rex made it 35-7 with 8:55 left in the game.

Defensively, senior Zach Schmerge (Wapakoneta) had six tackles and junior Justin Croswell (Macomb, Mich./Lutheran North) had five tackles and a sack.

Ohio Northernout-gained Otterbein 496-142 in total offense (including a 319-71 advantage in the air), won the first down battle 25-9 and held the ball for 38:07.

The Polar Bears will return to action next Saturday with a 1:30 pm contest at No. 2-ranked Mount Union in Alliance.