Sept. 5, 2009

Courtesy of Ohio Northern

ADA — Ohio Northern opened its 2009 season in impressive fashion, defeating No. 4-ranked North Central (Ill.) 28-19 Saturday afternoon at Dial-Roberson Stadium.

The Polar Bears won their season opener for the 13th time in the last 16 seasons and is now 5-1 in home openers at Dial-Roberson Stadium.

The Cardinals fall to 0-1.

Brent Donley rushed 29 times for 144 yards and three TDs, Kyle Simmons completed 20 of 31 passes for 196 yards and a TD and Justin Linzy had career-highs of seven receptions and 56 yards to lead ONU.

Donley had 95 of his rushing yards in the second half and 51 yards on nine carries in the fourth quarter as Northern put the game away.

After the Cardinals scored with 12:36 left in the game to pull within 21-19, ONU marched 73 yards in nine plays and scored on a 3-yard TD from Simmons to Evan Elliott to go up 28-19 with 7:47 left in the game.

Donley crried the ball five times for 42 yards on the drive.

The ONU defense then forced a three-and-out and the Polar Bears got the ball back with 7:00 left to play.

Northern's offense would keep the ball the remainder of the game, with Donley, Seadrick Marshall and Simmons carrying the ball on nine of the game's last 10 plays as ONU ran out the clock and iced the victory.

"I'm very proud of our effort today," ONU head coach Dean Paul said. " We beat a very good football team today. Our guys worked very hard during the offseason and in camp to get ready to play toe No. 4-ranked team in the nation. We played hard and made some big plays. Now we've got to build on this victory and get ready to play on Sept. 19."

North Central scored on two of its first three possessions to take a 13-7 first quarter lead.

Dominic Sulo scored on a 2-yard run on the Cardinals' first series, capping an 11-play, 62-yard drive that put the visitiors up 6-0 with 4:09 gone in the contest.

But the Polar Bears answered after an interception by Jesse Richards gave ONU the ball at the NCC 30-yard line.

Donley plowed in from two yards out and Jake Heaphy's PAT put Northern up 7-6 with 5:07 left in the first period.

Sulo scampered in from 21 yards out on NC's next possession and the Cardinals led 13-7 with 2:07 left in the opening quarter.

Northern marched 63 yards in eight plays and took the lead for good when Donley scored on an 18-yard run with 2:49 left in the first half. Heaphy's second PAT made it 14-13 ONU at intermisson.

The Polar Bears extended their lead to 21-13 when Donley scored on a 5-yard run, capping an 11-play, 70-yard drive. Heaphy's PAT made it 21-13 with 35 seconds left in the third period.

But North Central answered on its next possession, going on an 8-play, 66-yard drive to pull within 21-19 at the 12:36 mark of the fourth quarter.

But the Cardinals' 2-point coversion pass from Aaron Fanthorpe to Nate Verdermyde was broken up by Richards, preserving ONU's 21-19 advantage.

The Polar Bear offensive line took over from there, as NCC would run only three plays and have the ball for only 47 seconds the rest of the game.

Northern would run 19 plays and consume 11:49 off the clock to salt away its victory over a top-5 team in the last six seasons. ONU defeated No. 5-ranked Capital 38-34 in 2004 and defeated No. 2-ranked Mount Union 21-14 in 2005.

Josh Horn tied a career-high with 10 tackles and had 1.5 sacks and Richards had seven tackles and an interception to lead the ONU defense.

Sulo carried the ball 25 times for 120 yards and 3 TDs to lead NCC.

Northern out-gained North Central 402-267 in the game and held the ball for 37:06 to just 22:54 for the Cardinals.

The Polar Bears will take next week off before hosting No. 1-ranked Mount Union on Sept. 19 at 1:30 pm at Dial-Roberson Stadium.