Watson, receivers have field day in opener

Quarterback throws for three touchdowns while Holland, Denton and Talley record 90 yards each in receiving

PHOTO BY PAT GAIETTO Tiffin University's Tyler Denton makes a reception past Northwood's Austin Hamlet.

Nick Watson had the type of season-opening game most quarterbacks only can wish for.

Then again, Watson’s receivers probably felt the same way after Tiffin University started its season with a 40-27 non-conference win over Northwood at Frost-Kalnow Stadium.

To be sure, Watson was brilliant as he began his second season as the Dragons’ starting signal caller. He went 24 for 29 passing, going for three touchdowns and 317 yards. He wasn’t intercepted.

But his receivers’ numbers were just as brilliant — and nearly split evenly.

Wideout Charles Holland — back this season after an injury-plagued 2017 — had nine catches for 111 yards. The highlight for him came in the opening moments of the fourth quarter, when Watson hit him for a 75-yard touchdown strike.

Tyler Denton had five catches for 99 yards. He started the game’s scoring, catching a 3-yard pass from Watson that went for a score.

Then there was Victor Talley, who hauled in eight passes for 92 yards. He had a 7-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter.

The Dragons had a 25-6 edge at halftime, but the Timberwolves, behind a game effort from quarterback Joe Garbarino, gave TU a scare.

Holland’s long touchdown catch put TU up 33-13 with 14:12 left. But Garbarino engineered a pair of touchdown drives. He found Christian Marti on a 14-yard score, then Northwood crawled within 33-27 when Grant Dunatchick ran in a 6-yard touchdown with 6:27 left.

But on a day with tremendous passing, it was the running game that secured the victory for the Dragons.

Tylan Rice broke a 41-yard scoring run with 4:13 remaining.

Rice was the Dragons’ leading rusher, with 64 yards on nine carries.

Garbarino finished with 102 rushing yards on 16 carries, and went 12 for 18 passing for 174 yards and two interceptions.

Tiffin’s Spencer Moyer and and Kevin Hyde each had a pick, while Delan Wynn led the Dragons with five tackles.

The Dragons are 1-0, and travel to Mercyhurst next week.