Ohio Northern rallies for 35-31 victory at Adrian (Mich.) in season opener

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By Tim Glon

ADRIAN, Mich. — The Ohio Northern football team opened up its 2017 campaign with a come-from-behind 35-31 victory at Adrian (Mich.) Saturday evening at Docking Stadium.

Sophomore Christiaan Williams (Anna) ran 35 times for 182 yards and a score and junior Will Freed (Carlsbad, Calif./San Marcos) completed 21-of-36 passes for 295 yards and 3 touchdowns to lead the ONU offense.

Junior Caleb Saalfeld (Modesto, Calif./Fred Beyer) caught a pair of touchdowns passes, including the go-ahead score with 4:39 left in the game.

Senior Cyler Caldwell then came up with an interception at the AC 30-yard line with 3:49 remaining.

Six runs by Williams netted two first downs to get the ball to the AC 5-yard line and Freed took three knees to end the game.

"I like the way we responded tonight," ONU head coach Dean Paul said. "We kept our poise and responded to the momentum shifts. Adrian is a very good football team and we have a lot to work on. But overall we did a good job of staying with it. It was a good team win."

Williams' 185-yard effort was a career-best and increases his school record streak of consecutive 100-yard rushing games to 10.The Polar Bears (1-0) got on the board first on a 37-yard touchdown pass from Freed to junior Chad Rex (Bradenton, Fla./Lakewood Ranch) just four plays into the contest.

The Bulldogs (0-1) responded with a 73-yard touchdown drive, but junior Justin Croswell (Macomb, Mich./Lutheran North) blocked the PAT and it was 7-6 ONU.

After AC had taken a 14-13 lead, sophomore Mark Niles (Miramar, Fla.) returned an interception 16 yards for a score to give ONU a 14-13 first quarter lead.

Freed then hit Saalfeld on a 38-yard touchdown pass to put Ohio Northern ahead 21-13 with 11:22 remaining in the second quarter.

Northern led 21-16 at halftime.

Emmanuel Stewart scored on an 8-yard run to give AC a 24-21 lead with 13:13 left in the game.

Northern responded by marching 79 yards in 13 plays and Williams plowed in from 3 yards out to put the Polar Bears back on top 28-24 with 8:38 remaining.

Adrian regained the lead on a 2-yard TD run by 35 with 6:37 to play, capping a 61-yard drive.

But again the Polar Bears answered, marching 74 yards in six plays and regaining the lead on a 6-yard TD pass from Freed to Saalfeld with 4:30 left to play.

Caldwell's interception then gave ONU the ball at the AC 30 and Northern then ran out the clock.

Adrian was led by Stewart with 106 yards and two scores and by Jerron McGaw with nine catches for 154 yards and a score.

Rex caught six passes for 101 yards and a score and Niles added a team-high 12 tackles and a sack to his pick-6 to lead the ONU defense.

Ohio Northern out-gained Adrian 474-401 in total offense.

The Polar Bears return to action Sept. 16 with their home against Heidelberg at 1:30 pm at Dial-Roberson Stadium.

Dec. 14: All times Eastern
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Dec. 8: All times Eastern
at Mary Hardin-Baylor 31, UW-Whitewater 14
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at Mount Union 28, Johns Hopkins 20
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