Defense, special teams beat Bangor
Northwestern is no stranger to having its special teams units contribute to wins. Friday night against Bangor, special teams pretty much dominated the play with the Tigers blocking a punt and recovering two muffed punts. The plays led to the only two touchdowns that were scored in the game as Northwestern downed Bangor 14-0.
Umer Javed blocked a punt with 9:58 left in the first quarter and the Tigers started their drive at the 47-yard line. Eight plays later, Justin Rodda came around left end and sprinted into the front corner of the end zone for the first score of the night.
In the second quarter, Garrett DeBoer muffed a long, high punt from Hunter Miller and the Tigers recovered at the Slaters 23-yard line. This time around, Northwestern went right to the air with Phil Dangello hitting Caleb Clymer down the right side of the field making it a 14-0 game.
“In the past two or three years, that’s propelled us to many, many wins,” said Dangello about the special teams play. “That was a huge turning point and gave us our second touchdown and put us up 14-0 and that was when we really put them away.”
DeBoer’s second muff of the game again gave Northwestern (3-4) starting field position at the Bangor 33-yard line, but this time the Bangor defense was up to the challenge and forced Northwestern to punt.
Bangor (2-5) showed some life in the second half, but the Tiger defense frustrated the Slaters when they stopped three straight drives. Bangor got only as far as the 21-yard line on two of the drives and made it to the 17 on the other. One of the drives ended with Deven Bollinger intercepting a pass at the 17.
With Bangor frustrated, its defense was called for two dead-ball penalties on the same play, including a late hit out of bounds and an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty to give Northwestern an extra 30 yards after an 11-yard run by Dangello.
“They showed a little emotion and it got a little testy there and I’m fine with that,” said Northwestern head coach Josh Snyder. “As long as we’re on the right side of it and stay level-headed and do the right thing, and we did that. It was nice to see.”
Dangello stepped in to play quarterback at some points in the game, including leading the offense in their last two drives. With Dangello in the shotgun formation, Bollinger was spread out wide left, although none of the plays came his way. Instead, Dangello carried the ball and ate some time off the clock, gaining 54 of his 88 yards rushing on the night from that set.
“It was a nice wrinkle and it’s something that we like to do in short-yardage and goal-line situations,” said Snyder. “That’s our four-minute offense to grind out a game. The last time that we were able to do that was against Wilson.”
Looking at the stats, you might have thought Bangor won the game. The Slaters collected more than twice as many first downs (18-9) and total offensive yards (332-136) and punted the ball just three times compared to the eight punts by Northwestern.
But the Tigers took advantage of Slater errors and played solid defense and exceptional special teams to keep Bangor off the scoreboard and earned their first shut-out win of the season.