Bobbyn's big play seals Tiger win
Northwestern and Notre Dame met last Friday night and played a game filled with big plays, but Northwestern's Alex Bobbyn may have come up with the biggest in the final seconds.
The Crusaders marched their way quickly down the field and had a third-and-goal from the Tigers nine-yard line. Quarterback Kordell Theadford had already hit Derek Gardner for two big plays on the drive and appeared to have another when Gardner appeared open in the end zone, but Bobbyn closed ground and batted the ball away.
The defense again came up big on fourth down and got the ball back at their own eight-yard line with just one-second left in the game. The late heroics gave Northwestern (3-2) a 33-27 win over Notre Dame (3-2).
"Bobbyn and all of our safeties really do the job for us," said Northwetsern head coach Josh Snyder. "They gave up some yardage tonight, but in the end, they also did what they had to do to keep us on top."
The game featured three touchdown passes of over 40 yards, a 94-yard kick-off return for a touchdown and a 48-yard fumble recovery that was returned for a 48-yard touchdown.. W
The first of the big plays came on Notre Dame's first drive when Theadford hit Owen Loughlin for a 63-yard touchdown that put the Crusaders up 6-0 after the point-after failed.
Not to be outdone, Tiger signal caller Frank Dangello hit Dylan Snyder on a 41-yard strike to even the score after the Tigers also missed the point-after.
On the next drive, Notre Dame faced a fourth-and-11 and Theadford hit Loughlin again, this time for 28 yards. The drive went for 72 yards in 11 plays and put the Crusaders up 13-7.
Again, Northwestern took the ensuing drive and cashed it in when Dangello hit Cameron Richardson on a 64-yard pass down the sideline and Brandon Miller added the extra point to put the Tigers up 14-13.
Northwestern seemed destined for another six points with just over five minutes left in the second quarter, but Dangello's pass to the end zone was picked off by Theadford, who returned the ball from five yards deep in the end zone out to the 10-yard line, where Theadford and his Notre Dame offense took over.
The Crusaders looked to put together a sustained drive, and it looked like they would, but Gardner dropped a pass at midfield that would have given Notre Dame a long gain for a first down and the Crusaders had to punt.
With just 3:25 left in the half, Northwestern moved down the field and Harry Hall capped off the drive with a 10-yard touchdown run as the Tigers took a 20-13 lead into the locker room.
Hall finished the game with 195 yards rushing, a career-high, on 29 carries. Northwestern gained 298 yards on the ground and 401 total yards in the game.
"That's usually what I try to do, just grind it out," said Hall. "Personally, I love to run the ball that way."
Ironically, the offensive hero for Northwestern prefers defense over big offensive displays.
"I don't like high-scoring games," he said. "I love defense, but if that's how it's going to be, it's all right. We did have a lot of nice defensive plays."
The opening kick-off of the second half was taken by Richardson at the six-yard line. He maneuvered his way through the defense and made a quick move outside to beat the final Notre Dame defender and score on a 94-yard return for a touchdown, expanding the Tigers lead to 27-13.
The Tigers were again on the board when Hall ran one-yard for a touchdown with just over 2:00 left in the third quarter, giving Northwestern 27 unanswered points and a 33-13 lead.
From there, it was primarily the Crusaders offense on display. Theadford had a 13-yard run for a touchdown and Loughlin ripped the ball away from Dangello on a hand off to Hall. He raced 48 yards for another touchdown, cutting the Tigers lead to 33-27 with 6:25 left to play in the game.
Notre Dame went for it on a fourth-and-one play and appeared to pick up the first down, but the spot came up well short and the Tigers took over on downs. Northwestern wasn't able to move the ball and the Crusaders had one last crack from their own 20-yard line.
A 46-yard completion to Gardner on the first play of the drive took Notre Dame to the Northwestern 34-yard line. Theadford then hit Gardner again for 24 yards and a first-and-goal just inside the ten yard line.
Theadford again looked for Gardner, but Bobbyn stepped up to make his game-saving play and preserve the Northwestern win.
"I thought we played three really good quarters of football," said Snyder. "And I don't think we had a let up, per se, in the fourth. We were able to move the ball on the ground. I'm glad for our guys and our team. They do everything we say and work their tails off and to get a good win like this is nice."