Tigers lose to ND, Miller
Northwestern head coach Josh Snyder is in search of a playmaker.
And on Friday night the new Tiger mentor found one.
Unfortunately for him, that playmaker was on the other side of the field.
Notre Dame's Noah Miller, in just his second game at quarterback, ran for 109 yards and three touchdowns and also threw for 217 and two scores to lead the Crusaders to a 35-7 Colonial League victory.
"He's, by far, the best athlete that they have," said Snyder, whose team dropped to 2-3. "With what their line was able to do ... and him being a superior athlete out there, he was able to make plays with his feet. He also made big plays throwing the ball. When he put it up in the air it almost always seemed to find Notre Dame hands. He just outplayed us tonight.
"We're still finding our way and it's going to take some time. We're waiting for someone in the skill positions to step up and be our go-to guy. It's a little frustrating that it hasn't happened yet. It's one thing to make plays at practice, but when the lights come on on a Friday we want gamers out there who come through in the clutch. Right now we're still finding out who those guys are going to be."
There's no question who that person is for the Crusaders' Chuck Muller.
Miller replaced injured Kordell Theadford a week ago and has thrived in his new role.
"I think Noah is one of the best athletes in the Valley," said Muller. "With Kordell being hurt we went to the best-athlete scenario. I think you saw he's a pretty special player.
"If you come up and get in his face, he's going to throw the ball over your head. He makes plays. He may not be a perfect quarterback, but he just make plays."
Miller's first big play against the Tigers came right after a turnover.
Trey Watson recovered a Northwestern fumble midway through the opening quarter and the Notre Dame signal-caller took advanatge by throwing a perfect 28-yard scoring strike to Stanton Santos for the game's opening score.
With the Tigers struggling to move the football, Miller extended the lead with his feet. Carrying the ball six times, he led a 40-yard drive that ended with his six-yard scoring run.
Snyder's club managed to get on the board with four minutes left until halftime when Frank Dangello hit Tyler Richardson in stride for a 46-yard touchdown pass, but any momentum from that score quickly evaporated when the Crusaders answered right back.
Once again, it was Miller that did the damage. While on the run, he found Owen Loghlin for 41 yards. From there, Miller found the end zone from six yards out to up the margin to 21-7.
"That was some bad Northwestern football in the first half," said Snyder. "We came out flat, turning the ball over, missing blocks, and just not being in synch. We only ran (14) plays (to their 34) in the first half. We were able to score but then gave one back on a blown coverage. It's a learning process, but that was some bad football.
"Our first drive of the second half wasn't too bad," said Snyder. "We moved the ball. Good teams finish with points and the ball in the end zone. We had a fourth down that we couldn't convert."
The Tigers received the kickoff to start the third quarter and moved to Notre Dame's 26, but failed on a fourth-and-three. After a Crusader fumble gave Northwestern another chance to get back in the game, the host team couldn't register a first down.
Miller took over and needed just two plays, a 37-yard completion to Dan Weekes and a 26-yard scoring scamper, to put the game out of reach.
For good measure, he added a 73-yard touchdown throw to Loughlin in the final frame to complete the decisive win.