DULUTH, Minn. (csssaints.com) – Northwestern College scored the lone offensive touchdown of the game with 5:37 left in the fourth quarter and the subsequent extra point gave the Eagles a 14-13 victory over the St. Scholastica football team Saturday at Ordean Stadium.
The Saints came in having won their last 17 consecutive Upper Midwest Athletic Conference (UMAC) games with their last loss coming to Greenville College (Ill.) at Public Schools Stadium on October 9, 2010. This was the first game played by the Saints at Ordean Stadium.
The Eagles (5-1, 4-0 UMAC) opened the game with a bang as Brian Lecheler returned the opening kickoff 94 yards for a touchdown to make it 7-0 just 13 seconds into the contest.
After Northwestern recorded an interception on CSS's first possession, the Saints' Mike LaValley would get a pick of his own after a deflection by Chas Lemon just two plays later as St. Scholastica took over at Northwestern's 20-yard-line. However, the Saints would have to settle for a Mike Theismann 27-yard field goal to make the score 7-3.
Both punters would take over the rest of the first half as both teams combined for six punts and the Eagles went into the locker room with a 7-3 lead.
The Saints were held to 68 yards of total offense in the first half, while Northwestern gained 131. Both punters combined for 229 yards punting in the half. CSS was also hit with the injury bug in the first half as the top two running backs Travis Nehowig and Jake Jensen left the game and did not return.
The start of the second half began just like the beginning of the game, except this time it was in the Saints' favor. Cory Gebhard took the second half opening kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown to put the Saints in front 10-7.
In the middle of the third quarter the Saints would drive to the Northwestern 34-yard-line, but the Eagles would get another interception.
With the score still 10-7 entering the fourth quarter, CSS would benefit from a bad Northwestern punt and take over around midfield. CSS marched the ball down to the Northwestern 13-yard-line and were going to go for it on fourth-and-three. However a delay of game penalty sent the field goal unit on and Theismann connected from 36 yards out to make the score 13-7.
Northwestern took over at its own 28 on the ensuing possession with 8:51 remaining. On third-and-eight, the Eagles would convert on a shovel pass to Chris Simon-Wallace as he went 23 yards into St. Scholastica territory.
On the next play, quarterback Josh Balzer looked like he was going to be sacked for a big loss, but managed to fling the ball to Josh Sinnen, who was then able to reverse field and take the ball all the way down to the CSS 10-yard-line. On third and goal, Tim Youtzy plunged in from a yard out and the point after put the Eagles up 14-13 with 5:37 left.
The Saints got the ball to midfield on the next possession, but the Eagles recorded their third interception of the game. Northwestern then picked up key third downs and were able to run out the clock as they outlasted the Saints 14-13.
St. Scholastica finished with 194 yards of total offense, while the Eagles ended with 282 yards. The Saints were just 3-for-11 on third downs, while the Eagles were 8-of-15.
Thomas Fragale had a big game for the Saints with 47 yards rushing to go along with 55 yards receiving. Nick Thiry had six receptions for 50 yards. Tyler Harper was 10-of-21 for 110 yards, but did throw three interceptions. Chris Simon-Wallace and Josh Sinnen combined for 134 yards rushing for the Eagles.
Alec French led the CSS defense in tackles with 13. Zack Dubanoski added 11 tackles and one sack.
The Saints (4-2, 4-1 UMAC) will have another long bus trip next Saturday when travel down to Fulton, Mo. to face Westminster College. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m. The action can be heard live on Saints Sports Net.