ADA — Senior Ryan Fleming caught four passes for a career-high 201 yards and TD passes of 54 and 49 yards, leading No. 13-ranked Ohio Northern past Baldwin-Wallace 41-21 in a critical Ohio Athletic Conference football contest Saturday afternoon at Dial-Roberson Stadium.
The Polar Bears improve to 5-1 overall and 4-1 in OAC play, while the Yellow Jackets fall to 5-1, 4-1.
ONU senior All-American Brent Donley carried the ball 28 times for 145 yards and TD runs of 3, 1 and 10 yards and senior Kyle Simmons completed 14 of 23 passes for a season-high 269 yards and two TDs for ONU.
The game will be televised tape-delay on SportsTime Ohio. Broadcast times are Saturday at 10 pm, Sunday at Noon and Monday at 5 am. Check your local listings for channel information.
Simmons hit Fleming on passes of 54, 51, 49 and 47 yards over the top of the BW defense.
"Ryan has great speed and is a very talented deep threat," ONU head coach Dean Paul said. "We needed to get him the ball more. Obviously, we did not expect this much success, but our offensive line did a great job of protecting the passer and we were having success, so we kept at it."
The Polar Bear offense was again impressive, rolling up 41 points and 455 yards of total offense. After a 3-and-out on its first possession, ONU drove to the BW 10-yard line on eight of its next nine possessions, scoring seven times.
Senior Jesse Richards had a career-high 17 tackles and an interception to lead the Polar Bear defense.
"This was a big win for us," Paul said. "BW is a very good team and we did a good job of being ready to play. We've had a very challenging schedule in the first six weeks of the season and we did a nice job again this week of being ready to play."
A Donley 3-yard plunge gave ONU a 7-0 lead with 3:19 left in the opening period.
But the Yellow Jackets quickly answered as Ryan O'Rourke hit Josiah Holt on a 56-yard TD pass to tie the game at 7-7 just 49 seconds later.
Northern responded with a long ball of its own as Simmons threw a 54-yard TD pass to Fleming four plays alter and it was 14-7 with 28 seconds left in the opening period.
Again BW had an answer as The Yellow Jackets then marched 60 yards in 13 plays and tied the game at 14-14 on a 7-yard run by O'Rourke with 10:31 left in the half.
ONU would score 21 points in the final 4:35 to go up 35-14 at intermission.
After a short punt gave Northern the ball at the BW 36-yard line. Donley runs of 33, 2 and 1 yards got the ball into the end zone and gave the Polar Bears a 21-14 advantage with 4:35 left in the half.
Senior Eric Wenzler intercepted O'Rourke on BW's next possession and returned the ball 20 yards to the BW 21-yard line.
Donley then scampered in from 10 yards out and it was 28-14 with 1:50 left in the half.
Another short punt just before the half gave ONU the ball near midfield and Simmons followed with a 49-yard TD pass to Fleming with just five seconds left in the second period.
BW took advantage of a pair of ONU penalties and marched 93 yards in 12 plays to open the second half, scoring on a 1-yard run by John McGraw to make it a 35-21 game with 8:53 left in the third.
After an exchange of punts, Northern marched 55 yards in 14 plays, taking 7:17 off the clock, and scored on a 27-yard field goal by senior Blair Ellenberger to extend its lead to 38-21 with 13:32 left in the game.
Junior Vince Calloway thwarted a BW scoring opportunity with 10:15 left in the game by intercepting O'Rourke at the ONU 5-yard line.
ONU then drove 82 yards in 10 plays, taking 5:04 off the clock, and another 27-yard Ellenberger field goal made it 41-21 with 5:11 left in the game.
Richards made the last of ONU's big plays, intercepting O'Rourke in the end zone with 1:36 left in the game afetr the Yellow Jackets had driven from their own 39 to the ONU 1-yard line.
O'Rourke finished the day 12 of 26 for 182 yards and a TD. Kyrell Crook carried the ball 11 times for 63 yards, McGrwa gained 44 yards and a TD on 14 carries and Tim Miker gained 39 yards on 14 carries for BW.
The Polar Bears will return to action next Saturday with a 7 pm contest at John Carroll.