Panthers Hold Off Northern Michigan, Move to 3-0

Mark Nichols (Courtesy NMU Sports Information)
Mark Nichols (Courtesy NMU Sports Information)

MARQUETTE, Mich. – Ohio Dominican's defense forced three turnovers and Mark Nichols (Pataskala, Ohio) and Brandon Schoen (Olentangy, Ohio) each rushed for over 140 yards as the football team came away with a hard-fought 30-23 road victory at Northern Michigan Saturday afternoon.

With the win, ODU improved to 3-0 for the second time in school history (2007) and also moved to 2-0 in the GLIAC. Northern Michigan fell to 1-1 (1-1 GLIAC).

The Panthers were outgained 484-425, but came up with several big stops inside the red zone and came up with interceptions from Cody Culbertson (Galloway, Ohio)and Billy Eakins (Pickerington, Ohio) and a fumble recovery by Brad McCurdy to hold off NMU.

ODU tallied 301 yards rushing, the sixth-best total in school history. Nichols finished with 157 yards on 26 carries while Schoen had 141 yards and two touchdowns.

Pinned inside their own 10-yard line on the first two drives to start the game, Schoen broke free as he ran 85 yards down the left sideline, stepping out of a tackle around midfield, for a touchdown. It was the longest run and third-longest play in school history.

Culbertson then intercepted a pass in Northern Michigan territory, setting up a 13-yard TD pass from junior Mark Miller (Cincinnati, Ohio) to classmate Abe Johnson (Cincinnati, Ohio) to give the Panthers a 14-0 lead with 4:14 to play in the first.

Northern answered, though, moving 81 yards in 10 plays, capped off by a 10-yard TD run to make it 14-7. After an ODU turnover, the Wildcats moved inside the Panther 10 again, but a fumble on third-and-goal was recovered by McCurdy to halt the drive.

The Panthers then embarked on a 16-play, 81-yard drive that chewed up 7:34 off the clock. Brent Wahle (Pataskala, Ohio) hit the first of his three field goals on the day, this from 33 yards, to make it 17-7 ODU with 1:18 to play.

But NMU moved quickly to respond and would hit a field goal of its own as time expired to send the halftime score to 17-10.

ODU took the opening kickoff of the second half and would convert on a fourth-and-eight pass to Johnson for 16 yards to move the chains inside the Wildcat redzone. Schoen would cap the drive with a five-yard plunge to extend the ODU lead to 24-10.

Again, Northern had a response, as on its ensuing drive the Wildcats would score on a 13-yard touchdown rush. However, the extra point was blocked, keeping the Panther lead at 24-16 midway through the third.

Wahle would then hit his second field goal of the afternoon, this from 30 yards, to make it 27-16, and after Eakins' interception, would connect on field goal number three from 25 yards with just over a minute to play in the third.

Midway through the fourth, the Wildcats drove inside the Panther 10 and had fourth-and-two from the five-yard line. The defense stiffened, though, forcing an incompletion and giving the ball back to the offense.

Northern would get the ball back with just over three minutes to play, but the defense slowed them down enough as it took nearly the duration of the clock for the Wildcats to score a touchdown. It came with 19 seconds left, and the Panthers were able to recover the onside kick and kneel out the clock for the road win.

Justin Bell (Columbus, Ohio) finished with 13 tackles and Warren Shields (Richwood, Ohio) would make 10 to lead the Panther defense on the afternoon.

Ohio Dominican returns to Columbus for its Homecoming game at noon Saturday, Sept. 28 against No. 10 Grand Valley State.

Contact: Scott Miles

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