Football gets season’s first win
Northwestern football head coach Josh Snyder called last Saturday’s game at Wilson the start of a new season. Not because it was the Tigers’ first game of 2017, but it’s the first time the squad has been near full strength for quite some time.
The Tigers welcomed back a number of players after early-season suspensions and injuries left the roster somewhat depleted.
Down five points in the fourth quarter, Northwestern took the lead with seven minutes to play, and then held off Wilson for a 29-26 win. It was the Tigers’ first win of the season.
“I told the guys it’s a new season that starts today,” Snyder said. “Obviously we got some guys back that we haven’t had the first three games. We made some mistakes, [and] we left some plays on the field, but we made enough plays to win.”
One of the main pieces back for Snyder was senior running back/wide receiver Phil Dangello. And his impact was felt in both areas of the game. Dan Burke, Jack Moloney, and Anthony Collucci also returned to the sidelines.
Not only did Dangello tie a school record with 10 receptions against the Warriors, he also ran out the clock on Northwestern’s final possession. Dangello lined up in the wildcat formation and ran seven straight times for the Tigers, gaining two game-clinching first downs.
That came after quarterback Deven Bollinger, who broke a school record with 20 completions while throwing for 230 yards and three touchdowns, led the game-winning drive.
“He [Dangello] was the heart and soul of our team in the offseason and in the weight room,” Snyder said. “He is a playmaker, our go-to guy that we put all over the field. Obviously situations happened that he wasn’t available. The game plan was to get him the ball in as many ways as possible.”
After Northwestern (1-3) got the ball back late in the third quarter, Bollinger orchestrated the game-winning drive. He completed three passes on the drive, but none more critical than his last completion, a 15-yard touchdown strike to tight end Caleb Clymer (eight catches for 121 yards).
“We had a tough first three weeks this year,” said Bollinger. “Wilson looked good coming into the game today. They have a really good running back and a really good quarterback. A few guys stepped up today. Our line did very well. Our wide receivers got open.”
Northwestern struck first on its first possession with a five-yard touchdown run from Jaylen Smith. But Wilson had an answer a little more than a minute later.
The Warriors (2-2) tied the game at 7-7 after running back Job Goodman scampered 53 yards for a touchdown midway through the opening quarter. After a quick series for the Tigers’ offense, Wilson quarterback Cameron Clark connected with wide receiver Alec Snyder for an 88-yard touchdown to break the tie.
“We were worried about those two guys [Goodman and Clark], and they were about as much as we could handle,” Snyder said. “In that last series, we were looking for a negative play. They jumped offside I think to start and they had the holding that put them back. But we still made some plays in that sequence.”
The two teams would trade touchdowns throughout the rest of the game. A 62-yard touchdown run from Goodman, his third of the game, gave Wilson a 26-21 lead late in the third quarter.
That lead would diminish on Northwestern’s next possession. And it was the final throw from Bollinger that sealed the victory to one of his favorite targets in the passing game.
“We were getting the play clock pretty much down to the wire every time there,” Snyder said. “We didn’t have any really big explosive plays. A lot of the plays we had were just gritty, to finish in the end zone on drives instead of settling for field goals was huge.”