MIDLAND, MICH. – The Northwood University football team earned a 32-27 win over McKendree Saturday afternoon (September 20).
Northwood is now 2-1 overall with the non-conference win. McKendree falls to 0-3 with the loss.
The Timberwolves used a big-play offense to get on the board first less than five minutes into the game, Northwood went 88-yards in just four plays, highlighted by a Mitch Robinson (Rochester Hills, Mich./Avondale) to Terrance Stocker (Flint, Mich./Grand Blanc) 47-yard pass. Bryan Thomas (Pompano Beach, Fla.) capped the drive with a 10-yard run to put the Timberwolves up 6-0.
McKendree put together a 13-play drive late in the first quarter, but missed a field goal to keep the score 6-0. But Northwood threw an interception three plays into the next drive which the Bearcats returned for a touchdown, putting McKendree on top 7-6 after one quarter.
Northwood finished the second quarter strong to take the lead to the break. Mark Morris (Macomb, Mich./Macomb Dakota) found Thomas to a 39-yard touchdown pass with 1:27 remaining in the half to make the score 13-7. Then after a lost fumble by McKendree, Keegan Haggarty (Macomb, Mich. /Albion College) connected on a 43-yard field goal in the closing moments of the half to send the game to the break with the Timberwolves leading 16-7. Northwood held a 191-173 edge in total yards at the break.
The offenses got going in the third quarter, as the two teams would score on four straight possessions. After McKendree capped a 70 yard drive with a touchdown to make the score 16-13, Northwood responded just two plays later. Jared Briguglio (Saginaw, Mich./Swan Valley) found running room up the middle and went for a 52-yard touchdown run, extending the Northwood lead to 23-13. The Bearcats came right back with a touchdown of their own to cut the lead to two at 23-20. However, the Timberwolves came right back with another Haggarty field goal, this time from 45 yards out. That kick sent the game to the fourth quarter with Northwood on top 26-20.
Both teams came up with big plays on both side of the ball in the fourth quarter. McKendree went back on top on a touchdown pass with 9:46 remaining, going on top 27-26. Once again, Northwood came right back with big plays of their own – this time in the passing game. A Morris to Devonta Elzy (Chicago, Ill./Simeon) pass went for 48 yards and put the Timberwolves inside the Bearcat 30. Then a play-action pass to tight end Cory Goble (Davison, Mich.) picked up 24 yards and set the Timberwolves up at the McKendree two yard line. Freshman Damian Nicholson (Manassas, Va./Osbourn Park) found the end zone on the next play, putting the Timberwolves back on top 32-27 after a failed two point conversion.
Turnovers were the story of the final minutes of the game. The Bearcats drove to the Northwood 40 when redshirt freshman Jerry Taylor (Macomb, Mich./Chippewa Valley) made the biggest play of his young NU career, intercepting a pass to give the ball back to the Timberwolves with less than four minutes remaining. But Northwood lost a fumble on the third play of the following series, giving the ball back to McKendree at the NU 21 with 1:46 left in the game.
It would be the Northwood defense that came up with the final big play of the game, as another redshirt freshman would clinch the victory for the Timberwolves. One play after the NU fumble, McKendree went for the end zone, only to have Aryn Curtis (Detroit, Mich./West Bloomfield) pick off the pass to give the ball back to the Timberwolves. Northwood ran the clock out from that point on, giving the Timberwolves the win.
Final stats were very close overall, as McKendree finished with a 427-420 edge in total yards. Northwood finished the game with 208 yards rushing and 212 yards passing. The Timberwolves ended the game going 11-14 passing while averaging 15.1 yards per pass play.
Morris finished the game 8-10 overall for 163 yards and a touchdown. Briguglio rushed for 138 yards and a touchdown, while Elzy led the Timberwolves with 61 yards receiving. Thomas had 31 yards rushing and 39 yards receiving while scoring a pair of touchdowns.
Northwood will travel to Wayne State next Saturday (September 27). Kickoff is scheduled for Noon.