COLUMBUS, Ohio – Behind several big first half plays, Ohio Dominican's football team held off Northwood 35-28 on Saturday in GLIAC play at Panther Stadium.
Senior Billy Eakins (Pickerington, Ohio) had a 92 yard interception return for a touchdown, freshman David Turner (Fort Wayne, Ind.) set a school record with a 100 yard kickoff return for a touchdown, and sophomore Cory Contini (Dover, Ohio) caught passes of 54, 41 and 34 yards as the Panthers (4-3, 4-3 GLIAC) built a 28-7 lead early in the second quarter.
The Timberwolves (1-6, 1-6 GLIAC) crept back to within 28-21 midway through the second quarter before a touchdown run by senior Justin Davis (Detroit, Mich.) gave the Panthers a 35-21 edge at the break.
The second half was virtually a stalemate. Northwood tallied 54 yards of offense and ODU 51 yards in a scoreless third quarter, and the teams swapped punts early in the fourth quarter before the Timberwolves blocked an ODU punt to take over on the Panther 46. Seven plays later, NU found the end zone on a 15 yard touchdown pass to make it 35-28 with 5:06 left.
The Panthers picked up one first down on their next drive before being forced to punt with 2:28 left. However, the defense stood tall, forcing incompletions on third and fourth down, to allow ODU to come away with the win.
ODU tallied 232 of its 316 total yards in the first half, as junior Grant Russell (Newark, Ohio) completed 10 of his 13 throws for 202 yards and two scores before the break.
On ODU's opening drive, he found Contini for a 54 yard pass down to the Northwood 25. Russell then drew the Northwood defense off side on the next play and heaved a pass into the end zone, where sophomore Jacob Mercier (Blacklick, Ohio) made the catch to give ODU a 7-0 lead.
Northwood took its opening drive and moved inside the Panther red zone, but Eakins interrupted a slant route and picked off the pass, returning it untouched down the ODU sideline for the score. It was the second longest interception return in school history behind teammate Marquise Tyus (Lakewood, Ohio), who had a 98 yard return at Ashland last year.
The Timberwolves again moved down field on their ensuing drive and cashed in on third and goal from the ODU four yard line to make it 14-7 with 4:53 to play. Turner fielded the kickoff two yards deep in his end zone, made one cut at the 35 yard line, then outran the Timberwolves coverage team down the Panther sideline for the longest return in school history. That gave the Panthers a 21-7 lead that they took into the second quarter, despite running just seven plays on offense compared to 23 for Northwood. The Timberwolves also had the ball for 12:11 in the period.
The Panthers extended the lead early in the second quarter. Russell hooked up with Contini on a 41 yard pass to the Northwood 36, then tossed Contini a screen pass that he took 34 yards through the middle of the Northwood defense to extend the lead to 28-7 with 13:47 to play.
The Timberwolves scored on their next two drives to cut it to 28-21, but the Panthers engineered a 16 play scoring drive to close the half. Taking over with 6:01 to play, Russell found Contini for 10 yards on a third-and-seven pass, then flipped a screen pass to freshman EJ Colson (Middletown, Ohio) on third-and-13 that Colson converted to the NU 29.
Facing a fourth-and-3 from the 22 with 35 seconds before the half, Russell rolled right and found Davis out of the backfield for an 18 yard catch and run, and Davis later capped the drive with a one-yard run to give the Panthers a 14 point lead at the break.
Behind its option rushing attack, Northwood carried the ball 54 times for 268 yards, but threw for just 60 yards on 8-of-20 passing, including just 15 passing yards in the first half. ODU's defense limited Northwood to six first downs and 127 total yards in the second half.
Sophomore Ross Thompson (Delphos, Ohio) led ODU with 11 tackles, including two tackles for loss, and junior Cameron Kohl (Hilliard, Ohio) added 10 tackles. Junior Tre McIntyre (North Lewisburg, Ohio) and Tyus each had eight tackles and Eakins finished with seven stops, including a tackle for loss.
Contini had all 136 of his receiving yards in the first half and finished with six grabs. Turner caught three passes as well and totaled 156 kick return yards, the fourth-highest total in school history.
Ohio Dominican hits the road for a 1 p.m. kickoff at Northern Michigan next Saturday.
Contact: Scott Miles