Missed opportunities prove costly as Football falls to No. 1 Mount Union 38-21

Missed opportunities prove costly as Football falls to No. 1 Mount Union 38-21

By Tim Glon

ADA -- The Ohio Northern football team rolled up 468 yards of total offense and made nine trips into Mount Union territory on Saturday, but miscues and missed opportunities proved costly in a 38-21 loss to the top-ranked Purple Raiders at Dial-Roberson Stadium.

The Polar Bears (1-3 overall, 1-2 Ohio Athletic Conference) got 337 yards passing from sophomore Will Freed (Carlsbad, Calif./San Marcos) and 128 yards rushing from freshman Christiaan Williams (sidney/Anna).

Junior Malachi Nolletti (Jeromesville/Northwestern) and senior Jason Lucas (North Ridgeville) each had career days for ONU.

Nolletti had career-highs of six receptions for 127 yards and a TD and Lucas had a career-high 14 tackles and returned a fumble 26 yards to set up a score.

Northern scored on just two of five trips into the red zone, while Mount Union (4-0, 3-0) used a 100-yard pick six and recovered a fumble in the end zone for a score on a bad punt snap to remain undefeated on the season.

"Our guys kept battling, but we made too many big mistakes and did not take advantage of our opportunities today," ONU head coach Dean Paul said. "It's very difficult to give a team like Mount Union 14 points and win the game. We took some steps forward today and played very well at times, but the mistakes we made really hurt us."

The Polar Bears marched inside the MtU 20-yard line on each of their first three possessions of the game, but were turned away each time.

Freed hit Nolletti on a 42-yard pass on the first play of the game, but ONU was stuffed on a 4th-and-1 at the MtU 16-yard line later in the drive.

Mount Union then drove 84 yards in 11 plays to go ahead 7-0 with 4:35 gone in the game.

Northern marched right back down the field to the MtU 3, but Danny Robinson returned an interception 100 yards for a touchdown and the guests led 14-0 with 5:30 left in the opening period.

The Polar Bear offense kept marching and drove to the Pruple Raider 17-yard line, but a blocked field goal thwarted that scoring opportunity.

After MtU went ahead 21-0, Freed his freshman David Haseleu (Pittsburgh, Pa./Montour) on a 41-yard touchdown pass midway through the second quarter and it was 21-7 at halftime.

Northern amassed 352 yards of total offense in the first 30 minutes to 233 for Mt Union.

The Raiders took the second half kickoff and drove 75 yards in 11 plays to go up 28-7.

On ONU's ensuing possession, a bad snap on a punt went into the end zone and was recovered by MtU to make it 35-7 with 9:14 left in the third.

Undaunted, the Polar Bears marched 60 yards in eight plays and pulled within 35-14 on an 18-yard touchdown pass from Freed to sophomore Chad Rex (Brandenton, Fla./Lakewood Ranch) with 5:42 left in the third.

After an exchange of punts, sophomore Kyle Rowe (London/Southeastern) sacked Poorman, Lucas recovered the fumble and returned it 26 yards to the Mount 37 on the second play of the fourth quarter.

Freed hit Nolletti on a 13-yard scoring pass to pull ONU within 35-21 with 12:47 remaining.

But the Purple Raiders drove to the ONU 18 on their next possession and kicked a 35-yard field goal with 8:17 to play to go back up three scores and held on for the win.

Northern out-gained Mount 468-373 in the game, had 25 first downs to 21 for MtU and held the ball for 32:19 in the game.

The Polar Bears will return to action next Saturday with a 1:30 pm contest at Capital.