Defending champs fall to ND
One of the hallmarks of the 2014 Northwestern football team was its ability to limit turnovers. That enviable trait wasn’t on display last Friday night when the Tigers turned the ball over four times, helping Notre Dame (Green Pond) to a 30-19 win over last year’s District 11 2A Champions. The win was notable for Notre Dame, who went 0-10 last season, but are infused with talent from the former Pius X team.
While momentum swung back and forth through most of the game, Notre Dame came up with a big play early in the fourth quarter that put the momentum squarely on the Crusaders sideline.
Harry Hall broke through the Notre Dame line and looked like a sure bet to gallop 58 yards for a touchdown, but Aaron Weller closed in on Hall and caught up to him 13 yards before the end zone and knocked the ball out of Hall’s hand. As the ball skidded into the end zone, Notre Dame’s Mitch Daniel fell on it for a touchback.
Whether it was momentum or something else, thanks to a 74-yard run by Weller, Notre Dame needed just two plays to get into the end zone and open up a 27-19 lead. The only remaining score in the game came on a 35-yard field goal by Brett Nesfeder, with four minutes left, to put the game out of reach.
“It was back and forth in the first half, we were fighting field position,” said Northwestern head coach Josh Snyder. “For our offense to be successful, we have to play ahead of the chains and we had a couple of negative plays on first down, one was my fault.
“We were fighting from behind and we finally got a play that we liked to go up. Plays like that [Hall’s fumble] happen. It was our best guy and we’re not used to seeing that and he’ll learn from it.”
Senior quarterback Tre Jordan threw for 160 yards and Mitch Daniel rushed for 93 yards on the night for Notre Dame.
Jordan added 63 yards rushing and scored three rushing touchdowns, helping to snap the 10-game losing skid for the Crusaders.
Dylan Snyder made his first start at quarterback for Northwestern and finished the night 2-for-7 with 30 yards passing and one interception. Snyder adds the dimension of a running quarterback to the offense and he rushed for 51 yards and a touchdown on eight carries on the night.
“I thought it was a learning process for Dylan Snyder,” said Josh Snyder. “I thought we had a couple plays and we just didn’t connect. Dylan will get better. He’s only had 20 practices as a quarterback and he’s tough as nails.”
While Dylan Snyder is new at quarterback, Andrew Sorensen is still learning the ins and outs of playing center in his first season at the position. The two had two bad exchanges that resulted in big losses for Northwestern, which was also a problem that plagued the pair in their scrimmage game during the preseason.
Northwestern doesn’t figure to be a passing team this season, thanks in part to the reliability of Hall. Coach Snyder also believes that they have other players who can help with the ground game to give Hall a bit of a breather here and there, but the way the game played out, dictated that they stay more with Hall as the go-to guy on the ground.
“We’re successful when we can run the football and then play off of that,” said Josh Snyder. “Athletically, they’re definitely more athletic than us. It doesn’t take a genius to look down the field and see how many athletes they had.”