By Tim Glon
ADA -- Junior Will Freed (Carlsbad, Calif./San Marcos) threw for 245 yards and three touchdowns, but his final TD was called back due to a penalty and the Ohio Northern football team fell 35-28 to Marietta on a chilly Saturday afternoon at Dial-Roberson Stadium.
The Polar Bears fall to 5-3 overall and 4-3 in the Ohio Athletic Conference, while the Pioneers improve to 5-3, 4-3.
Freed was 17-of-32 passing for 245 yards, but his 16-yard TD strike to sophomore Rodney Holmes (Miami, Fla./Hallandale) with 37 seconds left in the game appeared to pull ONU within 35-34, but it was called back on a hands to the face penalty on the home team.
Northern drove back to the Marietta 7-yard line, but an incomplete pass on a 4th-and-4 with three seconds left ended the scoring threat.
Marietta's Roger Walker ran 36 times for 264 yards and four touchdowns, including a 66-yard TD run with 1:22 left in the game to break the 28-all tie.
Sophomore Christiaan Williams (Sidney/Anna) ran 17 times for 66 yards and caught 3 passes for 59 yards for 125 yards of total offense for ONU.
Northern scored first on a 15-yard pass from Freed to junior Chad Rex (Bradenton, Fla./Lakewood Ranch) with 3:04 gone in the game.
Marietta answered with a 17-yard run by Walker with 3:11 left in the period. But Valenti blocked the PAT and ONU held a 7-6 lead.
Walker ran in from 3 yards out with 9:30 left in the half, but ONU answered with a 12-yard pass from Freed to senior Malachi Nolletti (Jeromesville/Northwestern) with 24 seconds left in the second to lead 14-13 at intermission
Marietta took the second half kickoff and marched inside ONU territory on a 10-play drive, but sophomore Tyler Solis (Northfield/Nordonia) blocked the punt and sophomore David Haseleu (Pittsburgh, Pa./Montour) scooped up the ball and ran 30 yards for a score and it was 21-13 ONU.
The Pioneers answered with an 11-play, 75-yard drive that ended with a 3-yard touchdown pass from Darren Fields to Alex Smith to make it 21-19.
Fields then hit Walker on the 2-point conversion and it was tied at 21-all with 3:35 left in the third quarter.
The Marietta offense was on the field for 21 plays and 11:25 to start the second half and set the tone for the remainder of the game as Walker would gain 203 of his rushing yards in the final 30 minutes.
Northern answered with a 7-play, 78-yard scoring drive and went ahead 28-21 with 26 seconds left in the third on a 33-yard TD pass from Freed to Rex.
After an exchange of punts, Marietta marched 48 yards in 13 plays and tied the game at 28-all on a 5-yard run by Walker with 3:59 left in the game.
ONU picked up one first down on its next possession and was forced to punt with 2:04 left.
One play later, Walker broke loose for a 66-yard TD run and Marietta led 35-28 with 1:22 to play.
Northern marched to the MC 16-yard line and appeared to score on the Freed to Holmes pass, but an illegal hands to the face penalty pushed ONU back to a 1st and 25 at the MC 31.
A 17-yard pass from Freed to Nolletti gave ONU a 4th-and-4 at the 7 with nine seconds left, but Freed's pass on fourth down was knocked away on a nice play by Pioneer defender Michael Quealy and Marietta held on for the win.
MC out-gained ONU 426-380 in total offense and held a 36:29-23:31 advantage in time of possession, including a 22:40-7:20 advantage in the second half.
The Polar Bears will return to action Saturday with a 1:30 pm kickoff at Wilmington.