TU uses big plays to bounce Northwood

PHOTO BY STEVE WILLIAMS Tiffin University's JaQuan Hardy discards Northwood’s Bradley Royes with a stiff arm and looks upfield to gain extra yardage Saturday at Frost-Kalnow Stadium.

There are big plays, and then there is what Tiffin University did Saturday.

The Dragons scored four touchdowns — each was at least 35 yards — and fended off a late Northwood rally to get a 31-28 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference win.

“I like how our team comes to work every week with the attitude of getting better,” Tiffin coach Gary Goff said. “We have done a good job understanding our game plan the last several weeks. I think our guys understand that they have the chance to be a really, really good football team, but they have to continue to work at it.”

Tiffin (4-1 overall, 3-0 GLIAC) scored on passing plays of 71, 76, and 35 yards, while JaQuan Hardy ran in a touchdown from 45 yards out.

The Timberwolves (2-3, 0-3) took over at their own 13-yard line with 2:38 left in the fourth quarter, down 31-21. Grant Dunatchik hit receivers for 13 and 40 yards on consecutive plays. After an offsides penalty, Dunatchik found Gary Landless for 22 yards, and then Andre Carter for a seven-yard touchdown, slicing the TU lead to 31-28.

PHOTO BY STEVE WILLIAMS Tiffin University’s Tyler Denton checks over his shoulder as he pulls away from Northwood's Nick Tripp to score a touchdown on a long pass play.

The threat was cut down, as Carrington Contee recovered the ensuing onside kickoff, sealing the win for the Dragons — their fourth in a row.

“It turned into a four-minute offense in the fourth quarter and we keep finding ourselves in that situation,” Goff said. “That is a good situation to be in. We have to do a better job on converting some first downs when we go into that four-minute offense.”

Hardy’s score came on the first play of the Dragon’s second drive. Then, after the teams exchanged punts, a short punt by Tiffin set up the Timberwolves at the TU 48-yard line. Northwood covered that ground in eight plays, capped by Grant Dunatchik’s 1-yard run to knot the game up with 4:53 left in the first quarter.

In the second quarter, Contee intercepted a pass from Dunatchik, putting the Dragons inside the red zone. The drive did not muster any offense, but Joe Metcalf nailed a 35-yard field goal to give Tiffin the lead back.

The Dragons added to the lead in quick fashion after a Northwood punted. Nick Watson found Tyler Denton between two defenders. Denton stiff-armed a Northwood player and was off to the races for a 71-yard touchdown and 17-7 lead at halftime.

PHOTO BY STEVE WILLIAMS Tiffin’s Tony Shead takes off down the field after a reception.

The Timberwolves came out guns blazing in the second half. Taking over near midfield, Northwood needed just five plays to score. The final play saw Justin Cook go untouched over the left edge for 16 yards to get the Timberwolves back within 17-14.

“They did a good job taking our run game away by crowding the box. I thought our staff did a nice job adjusting and Nick made some nice throws,” Goff said. “When teams know you run the ball, you have to run the ball well and come away with first downs.”

The teams exchanged punts, but then the Dragons went bang, bang, bang to shock Northwood. First, Watson hit Tony Shead in stride for a 76-yard touchdown pass for a 24-14 lead.

Then, the Timberwolves fumbled the ensuing kickoff, which was oddly recovered by Metcalf, the kicker. The Dragons went for the jugular and connected, as Watson’s pass was lofted to Hunter Rockwell in stride for a 35-yard touchdown. Just like that, Tiffin had scored 14 points in 15 seconds for a 31-14 lead with 8:25 left in the third quarter.

Northwood responded quickly though. Andre Carter picked up 15 yards and 23 yards to get the Timberwolves into scoring position. After a rush, Northwood used a little trickery, as TJ Schepperly found Alex Spicuzzi for a 32-yard touchdown on a double pass.

“The triple option is hard to defend and prepare for in just one week,” Goff said. “I thought our defense did a nice job by playing extra hard. We understand we were not always in the right spot, but we played hard and that made up for it.”

Watson finished with 245 yards passing, completing 9 of 16 passes. Hardy ran 16 times for 95 yards.

“We would love to see more rushing yards, but Northwood did a good job packing the box,” Goff said. “They were taking the run game away, which we kind of expected. They had a good gameplan there, but we did a nice job adjusting and finding the open throws down the field.”