Pirates edge Northwestern in OT
Northwestern’s Nick Henry breaks loose for a big game against Palisades on Friday night. NANCY SCHOLZ/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS
Four quarters weren’t enough to settle it. And after both teams scored on their first possessions of overtime, Northwestern head coach Josh Snyder and his team wanted a resolution.
Trailing by one point, he decided to go for the two-point conversion and the win. But Deven Bollinger’s pass fell just short of connecting with receiver Josh Rodda in the end zone and Palisades came away with the 35-34 victory to stay unbeaten while handing the Tigers their first loss.
“As soon as we hit overtime I said if we get the ball second and score we’re going for two,” said Snyder. “There was no need to prolong the game.
“We felt we had a good play based on the defense and the coverage. They were playing man. We came across in motion and tried to run a double slant flat. We held onto the ball a little too long and tried to make a play.”
Overtime was the first time Palisades had led the whole game.
Northwestern scored on its first drive of the night when Bollinger found Tyler Lobach for a 15-yard touchdown pass and a 7-0 lead with 6:17 left in the first quarter.
The Tigers stopped Palisades on their first three drives, allowing just three first downs while forcing two punts and intercepting a pass.
But after Northwestern got its second touchdown, a 1-yard Bollinger run that capped an 11-play drive, the Palisades running game finally got moving.
The Pirates went 42 yards in six plays, with Christian Gretzinger’s 22-yard run setting up quarterback Ethan Brader’s 1-yard touchdown that cut the lead to 14-7 with 5:03 left in the first half.
Palisades seized on the momentum, forcing the Tigers’ first three and out of the night then mounting a 70-yard touchdown drive that included four runs by Gretzinger, who carried the ball 24 times for 134 yards in the game.
“We started playing some football,” said Pirate head coach Kevin Ronalds. “We still felt we could run the football. We started going up and down the field. We had momentum, but we lost momentum to start the second half again.”
The Tigers opened the second half with a Rodda kick-off return that put them in Palisades’ territory. A Rodda 27-yard run got them to the 17-yard line. Six plays later Bollinger (21 carries, 108 yards) scampered in for a 1-yard touchdown to put his team back in front, 21-14.
The Pirates answered late in the third quarter when they finished a 76-yard drive with a five-yard Gretzinger run. The scoring play came on a fourth-and-goal from the Tiger 5-yard line and tied the game at 21-21 with no time left in the third quarter.
The Tigers responded with a 12-play touchdown drive as Rodda hit pay dirt from four yards out for a 28-21 lead.
But the Pirates’ Ethan Miller took the ensuing kick off 82 yards to the 3-yard line. Two plays later Brader was in the end zone and the game was tied.
“You can’t pin that game on one play,” said Snyder. “There were many plays during the course of that game, little things that we left on the field.”
After a Northwestern three and out, Palisades got the ball with 3:25 left on the clock and moved from its own 12-yard line to the Tigers’ 19 before a missed field goal ended regulation.
The Pirates got the ball first in overtime. Brader ran for seven yards on first down and Gretzinger took it the other three yards on the next play.
The Tigers needed all four downs as Bollinger was stopped from a yard out on third down then ran it in on his last opportunity.
“I don’t think the environment got the best of us,” said Snyder. “I just think you need to make one or two more plays than the other team and we didn’t do that, whether it’s a missed tackle or a dropped ball or a bad pass.
“There’s no such thing as moral victories. That being said, one game isn’t going to make or break our season.”
OH HENRY ... While Gretzinger was the leading rusher in the game, the Tigers’ Nick Henry put up 105 yards on 14 carries to up his season totals to 394 yards on 55 totes.
QUOTE A TUNRAROUND ... Bollinger had negative rushing yards in each of the past two season, including 60 carries for -44 yards last year. This year he’s now carried the ball 62 times for 324 yards.
MORE FOOTBALL ... The Tigers have now played in two overtime games this season after beating Notre Dame (Green Pond) in OT to open the season.