D3football.com Top 25 Regarded Ohio Northern Slips by @AdrianCollegeFB in Host Bulldogs' Season Opener

The Bulldogs celebrate a touchdown versus Ohio Northern Saturday. (Action photo by Mike Dickie)
The Bulldogs celebrate a touchdown versus Ohio Northern Saturday. (Action photo by Mike Dickie)

ADRIAN, Mich.--Visiting Ohio Northern, which is receiving votes in the preseason national rankings by D3football.com Top-25, took advantage of three Adrian turnovers to come back and trip up the host Bulldogs, 35-31, in the season opener for both teams.

= Final Score: Ohio Northern University 35, Adrian College 31

= Location: Docking Stadium, Adrian, Mich.; Weather: Cloudy, 66 degrees, Wind ENE 6 mph

= Records: ONU Polar Bears (1-0 overall, 0-0 OAC); Adrian Bulldogs (0-1 overall, 0-0 MIAA)

TOP DAWGS
= Junior-eligible Emmanuel Stewart ran for 106 yards on 16 carries and two touchdowns in his return to the Adrian lineup. He added six catches for 44 yards to have a total of 150 all-purpose yards.

= Junior Jerron McGaw had game highs of nine receptions for 154 yards.

= Senior punter Connor Storms averaged 42.5 yards on four attempts, had a long of 51 and landed two kicks inside the 20-yard line.

= Junior defensive back Chris Adams made an impressive debut at his new position, notching a game-high 13 tackles (10 solo). He was a first-team all-conference linebacker last season while establishing career highs in tackles and passes defended.

= Senior linebacker Jordan Freimark added nine total tackles (4 solo) and was credited with a blocked field goal.

= Senior defensive end Damon Fuller chipped in seven total tackles (4 solo) while sophomore defensive back Shawn Starks, senior linebacker Jacob Davis and senior lineman Dakota Underwood contributed six each.

THE OPPOSITION
= Will Freed completed 21 of 36 passes for 295 yards and three touchdowns against one interception.

= Christiaan Williams rushed 35 times for 182 yards for game bests in both categories.

= Chad Rex compiled six catches for 101 yards while Malachi Nolletti added six and 83.

= Caleb Saalfeld had an all-around evening including three receptions for 62 yards and a pair of TDs; a 16.3-yard average on three kickoff returns; and he averaged 6.5 yards on two punt returns.

= Mark Niles led ONU with nine stops and 12 total tackles, including a sack. He also had a pivotal interception TD return late in the first quarter.

= Cyler Caldwell, Greg Dennis and Cole Martin each recorded five solo tackles, with Dennis adding a 15-yard interception.

HOW IT HAPPENED
= Bulldog quarterbacks senior Clayton Uecker and sophomore Hunter Hamm were intercepted three times combined. Niles had a 16-yard TD interception return to put ONU up 14-13 with 1 minute and 42 seconds remaining in the opening quarter.

= With both teams exchanging punches, ONU struck first on the game's opening drive as Rex hauled in a 37-yard pass from Freed at the 13:26 mark, but Adrian had an immediate response 2:09 later on its initial possession. The Bulldogs marched 73 yards on seven plays to knot the score 7-all, culminating with a 19-yard TD connection between Uecker and McGaw. 

= With 5:01 left in the first quarter, Stewart gave Adrian its first lead at 13-7 with a one-yard TD plunge. 

= The Polar Bears, however, reclaimed the lead, 21-13, on Niles' defensive TD on the pick and a Saalfeld 38-yard TD reception before a Cameron Cook 39-yard field goal cut into the lead as the teams headed into halftime.

= After a scoreless third quarter, the fourth (29 points) featured a lot of scoring just like the first (27). The teams traded touchdowns beginning with Stewart's eight-yard scamper to begin the second half offense. Ohio Northern made it 28-24 on a Williams three-yard run at 8:38 to go. Senior David Nutter powered his way into the end zone from a yard out to give the Bulldogs their last lead of the night, 31-28, with 6:37 remaining. But the Polar Bears responded with a six-play, 74-yard drive in just 1:52 to get the game-winning TD by Freed to Saalfeld for six yards to account for the final four-point margin.

= With 4:34 to go, Adrian had a final opportunity to get the game-winning drive. But Caldwell had an interception deep in Adrian territory to give the ball back to his offense, which milked the final 3:49 to seal the victory.

= The Polar Bears had a slight edge in total yards, 474 to 401.

BEYOND THE BOXSCORE

= With the loss, Adrian had its six-game winning streak in the series snapped. The Bulldogs still lead the Polar Bears all-time, 6-3, as the teams were meeting for the first time since 1989.

= Stewart upped his career total to 2,595 yards rushing, going over the 100-yard mark tonight for the 12th time. The AC career rushing record belongs to Chris Clay, who had 2,969 from 2002 to 2005.

= Cook had two field goal attempts to tie James Spencer (33 made, 2003-06) for a school record with 44. Cook also tied Nick MacKool (31 attempts, 1992-95) for second place on the school's all-time chart with 22.

= Storms moved past Dustin Salliotte (5641 yards, 2010-13) for fourth place in Adrian all-time punting yards with 5,700. Next up is No. 3 Matt Patterson, who had 5731 from 2001-04.

UP NEXT
= Adrian will be idle next week and then return to action at home again on Saturday, Sep. 16, against Rockford College in the Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference-Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association Challenge. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at Docking Stadium.

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