By Tim Glon
WILMINGTON — Ohio Northern scored on its first six possessions and led 42-12 at halftime, then held off a furious rally to hang on for a 49-45 Ohio Athletic Conference football victory at Wilmington Saturday afternoon at Williams Stadium.
The Polar Bears (6-3 overall, 5-3 OAC) scored on its first six possessions in the first half, but the Quakers (2-7, 1-7) scored on its last six possessions to get within 49-45 with 1:21 to play in the game.
But ONU sophomore Christiaan Williams (Sidney/Anna) recovered Wilmington's onside kick and picked up a first down on a punishing 3rd-and-6 run with 30 seconds left to ice the game.
Williams finished the day with 125 yards rushing on 19 carries with one touchdown. Sophomore quarterback Anthony McFadden (Chillicothe/Paint Valley) completed 15-of-21 passes for 283 yards and five touchdowns in his first career start. He also ran 12 times for 45 yards and a score to finish with 325 yards of total offense.
Junior Chad Rex (Bradenton, Fla./Lakewood Ranch) caught six passes for 135 yards and three scores for ONU.
Wilmington was led by Luke Creditt, who completed 35-of-47 passes for 444 yards and five TDs, and by P.J. Meyer, who caught 13 passes for 208 yards and five scores.
The two teams combined for 1,036 yards of total offense with WC holding a 585-451 advantage.
It was all Polar Bears in the first 30 minutes as the visitors scored on all six possessions to take a 42-12 lead at intermission.
After a WC field goal on its first possession, ONU drove 59 yards in four plays and scored on a 32-yard run by McFadden to make it 7-3.
Another Wilmington field goal made it 7-6, but Williams plowed in from 9 yards out and it was 14-6 ONU with 2:45 left in the opening quarter.
McFadden hit senior Malachi Nolletti (Jeromesville/Northwestern) on an 18-yard TD pass and found Rex on touchdowns plays of 35 and 38 yards and it was 35-6 ONU with 4:48 left in the half.
The Quakers then drove 57 yards in eight plays to pull within 35-12 with 55 seconds left in the half.
Northern answered with a 3-play, 64-yard drive and scored in a 16-yard TD pass from McFadden to sophomore Caleb Saalfeld (Modesto, Calif./Beyer) with 17 seconds left and it was 42-12 at intermission.
Wilmington got an 11-yard TD run by Eric Flynn, Jr. on its first possession of the second half to make it 42-18.
TD passes from Creditt to Meyer of 24, 5 and 17 yards on the next three Wilmington possessions pulled the Quakers within 42-39 with 8:50 left in the game.
The Polar Bears answered with an 8-play, 65-yard scoring drive that included back-to-back third down and long conversions on passes from McFadden to Saalfeld. McFadden hit Rex on a bubble screen that Rex turned into a highlight-reel 30-yard score and a 49-39 Polar Bear lead with 4:50 left in the game.
WC drove 75 yards in 11 plays on its final possession and scored on a 10-yard pass from Creditt to Meyer to make it 49-45 with 1:23 left.
Williams would recover the ensuing onside kickoff and ONU would hang on for the win.
With the victory, ONU clinched its 11th winning season in the last 13 years.
The Polar Bears will wrap up their season next Saturday when they host Baldwin Wallace at 1:30 pm on Senior Day at Dial-Roberson Stadium.