By Tim Glon
BEREA — Heidelberg scored 22 third quarter points to break open a tight game and posted a 49-17 victory over Ohio Northern in the eighth annual Bendekovic Bowl on a cold and blustery Saturday afternoon at Hoernemann Stadium.
The Polar Bears end their season 5-5 overall and are 4-5 in the Ohio Athletic Conference. Despite the loss, ONU clinched an upper division finish in the OAC for the 22nd time in the past 23 seasons.
The Student Princes end their season with an identical 5-5 overall mark and 4-5 OAC record.
ONU is now 1-7 in the eight Bendekovic Bowls, which is played annually between Ohio Northern and Heidelberg in honor of brothers Ron and Jason, who passed away prematurely while serving as assistant coaches for the two schools.
The Polar Bears played the game without seven starters on defense and three more on offense, including junior quarterback Anthony McFadden (Chillicothe/Paint Valley), all of whom missed the game due to injury.
Junior Mason Williams (Mount Vernon) completed 8-of-19 passes for 80 yards and a touchdown in his first collegiate start and sophomore Tyler Smith (Milford) came off the bench to complete 4-of-9 passes for 54 yards and a score.
The Polar Bears took the opening kickoff and marched 73 yards in 16 plays and scored on an 8-yard pass from Williams to senior Chad Rex (Bradenton, Fla./Lakewood Ranch) with 7:34 left in the first quarter.
Heidelberg tied the game when a short ONU punt into the strong wind hit at the ONU 12-yard line and bounced backwards into the end zone where it was recovered by HU for a TD with 3:17 left in the first.
Senior Chase Watson (Lima/Elida) gave Ohio Northern a 10-7 lead with a 31-yard field goal at the 13:14 mark of the second quarter.
Heidelberg led 13-10 at halftime and scored in its first two plays of the third quarter to take a 26-10 lead just 1:26 in the period.
Williams was sacked in the end zone for a safety on ONU's ensuing possession and it was 28-10.
"We made too many mistakes today," ONU head coach Dean Paul said. "We lost our poise a few times and the game got away from us in the third quarter. The wind was a big factor. We played without several starters and it was a factor too, but at the same time the next guys in line need to step in and play. Some of those guys played well, but we need to build better depth and do a better job of limiting mistakes and big plays. You are not going to win and don't deserve to win when you make as many mistakes as we did."
Sophomore Tyler Smith (Milford) threw a 34-yard touchdown pass to Rex to pull ONU within 42-17 with 12:35 in the game.
Rex finished the game with six catches for 84 yards and his two scores.
Heidelberg out-gained Ohio Northern 391-270 in total offense.