By Tim Glon
UNIVERSITY HEIGHTS — The Ohio Northern football team scored touchdowns on both of its overtime possessions and got a big defensive stop on a 4th and 7 to hold on for a 27-20 double overtime victory at John Carroll on a beautiful Saturday afternoon at Don Shula Stadium.
The Polar Bears improve to 4-2 overall and 3-2 in the Ohio Athletic Conference, while the Blue Streaks fall to 3-3, 3-2.
Sophomore Christiaan Williams (Sidney/Anna) ran 31 times for 212 yards, including an 18-carry, 159-yard effort in the first half. He also caught four passes for 82 yards and finished the day with 294 all-purpose yards.
Williams also surpassed the 1,000-yard mark for the season with 1,085 rushing yards in six games.
Junior Will Freed (Carlsbad, Calif./San Marcos) completed 20-of-39 passes for 328 yards and three touchdowns for ONU.
The game was tied at 13-all after regulation and John Carroll went on top 20-13 on a 9-yard pass from Anthony Moeglin to Brian Kornowski on its first overtime possession.
Northern answered with a 14-yard touchdown pass from Freed to sophomore Rodney Holmes (Miami, Fla./Hallondale) to tie the game at 20-all and send the game to a second overtime.
In the second OT, Freed his sophomore Caleb Saalfeld (Modesto, Calif./Fred Beyer) on a 12-yard TD pass to put ONU ahead 27-20.
The ONU defense forced an incomplete pass on a 4th and 7 from the 22-yard line on John Carroll's second overtime possession and came away with the victory.
"I'm so proud of the way our guys kept fighting," ONU head coach Dean Paul said. "We showed a lot of poise, a lot of fight. Once it got to overtime we tried to focus on winning the next play, winning the next series. We kept fighting and got a road win against a very talented opponent."
The Polar Bears had several chances to break the 13-13 tie and take the lead in the fourth quarter.
ONU drove into JCU territory four times in the fourth quarter, but were not able to score. Sacks forced punts on the first and third trips and a missed 50-yard field goal thwarted the second opportunity.
On its fourth possession, Northern drove to the JCU 7-yard line with nine seconds left in the game. But missed a 24-yard field goal wide left sent the game into overtime.
"We missed several opportunities to win the game in regulation," Paul said. "We tried to focus as a coaching staff and keep our team focused and not get frustrated. We had chances to win the game in regulation, but once it got to overtime we focused on the task ahead, not on what had already happened. I can't say enough how pleased I am of how we kept playing in the overtime."
Northern got on the board first when Freed hit freshman Ryan Rockwell (Broadview Heights/Saint Edward) on an 18-yard touchdown pass on ONU's opening possession.
After a JCU 3-and-out, ONU marched 63 yards in 11 plays and went up 10-0 on a 29-yard field goal by junior Chase Watson (Lima/Elida) with 3:58 left in the opening period.
John Carroll pulled within 10-6 by halftime on 39 and 41 yard field goals in the second quarter.
The Polar Bears extended their lead on the opening possession of the third quarter. Watson nailed a 28-yard field goal to give ONU a 13-6 advantage with 11:06 left in the third.
John Carroll tied the game at 13-all when Ro Golphin plowed in from 2 yards out on the second play of the fourth quarter.
Ohio Northern out-gained John Carroll 531-292 in total offense and held the ball for 33:04 of regulation against JCU, who won the OAC and reached the national semifinals a year ago.
Golphin rushed 15 times for 130 yards and a score to lead the Blue Streak offense.
The Polar Bears will return to action next Saturday with a 1 pm kickoff at Muskingum.