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)
= 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.
= 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.
= 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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