ST. PAUL – What started as a rather miserable day with a consistent morning rain soaking Reynolds Field finished as a relatively positive afternoon as the University of Northwestern sent its homecoming crowd home happy after a 27-14 win against Crown College. The Eagles, who have lost to the Storm just twice in the two teams' 22-game history, showcased an impressive running attack that started nearly right away.
After Northwestern was forced to punt in its first possession, running back Josh Sinnen (Waconia, Minn./Waconia) turned a corner and was gone for a 52-yard blast in the Eagles' first play from scrimmage of the next drive to put UNW on the scoreboard first. Neither team was able to find the end zone for over 15 minutes until the Storm's Eli Dahl made a one-handed interception grab off of the Eagles' Jacob Fletcher (Moorhead, Minn./Park Christian) and ran it back 23 yards for a score. Kurt Fickle successfully kicked his point-after attempt through the uprights and Crown had its only lead of the game at 7-6 as Kevin Langmade (Prescott, Wis./Prescott)'s shot at a PAT following Sinnen's dash was rejected by the left upright.
Then came a drive that set the tone for the remainder of the game. Fletcher drove Northwestern 62 yards down the field, chewing 7:34 off the clock before the quarterback connected with Jacob Fettig (Waconia, Minn.) in the end zone with 21 seconds left in the second quarter. Langmade's kick went through this time, and UNW went into halftime with a 13-7 advantage.
With Crown inserting new quarterback Vitu Chilongo under center to start the second half, Cody Kielsa (Howard Lake, Minn./Rogers) welcomed the freshman to the game with a pickoff in the Storm's first drive. Kielsa had Chilongo's number again, recording his second interception of the game in the fourth quarter.
Fletcher and Co. were back at it in the Eagles' next drive, turning a six-point buffer into 13 as he hit Caleb Couwenhoven (Blaine, Minn./Fridley) on a fade route in the back of the end zone. UNW wasn't done yet, as Sinnen started and finished another one-play Eagles drive with an even longer touchdown run, this one going for 87 yards, that will go into the team's record book as the third longest.
With most of Northwestern's first team defense, which had its best game so far this season, on the sideline, Crown wrapped up the game with a 74-yard touchdown pass from Chilongo to Elijah Bryant to make up for the 27-14 final score and skew the team yardage statistics.
While Fletcher manufactured a few nice drives, the day truly belonged to the Eagles rushing attack and to be more specific, Sinnen. The junior had a career high 200 yards on 17 carries with the two TDs to help Northwestern rush for 267 yards as a team compared to just 56 for the visiting Storm.
Fletcher finished with nine completions on 16 attempts producing 69 yards and two more scores.
In addition to its offense, Northwestern's defense also had a good day, starting with 10 tackles for a loss. Freshman Cameron Cox (Becker, Minn./Becker) from Becker had his best collegiate game thus far, recording 14 tackles with three sacks and 4.5 tackles for a loss. Luke Sommerlot (Pocahontas, Iowa/Pocahontas Area ) also had a strong showing with 12 tackles, grabbing one more of the Eagles' five sacks in the game.
The victory evens Northwestern's record at 2-2 overall (2-1 UMAC) while Crown remains in search of its first win this season. Continuing with their every-other-week schedule this year, the Eagles will be back on the road next Saturday as they face the University of Minnesota Morris in western Minnesota.