By Tim Glon
NEW CONCORD — Ohio Northern overcame five turnovers and a missed 22-yard field goal with 24 seconds left to defeat Muskingum 7-6 in an Ohio Athletic Conference football game at McConagha Stadium on Saturday.
The Polar Bears (5-2 overall, 4-2 Ohio Athletic Conference) were led by sophomore running back Christiaan Williams (Sidney/Anna), who ran 38 times for 168 yards and ONU's only touchdown.
Muskingum (2-5, 1-5/1-6, 0-6) got 172 yards passing and a touchdown by quarterback Brody Hahn.
ONU junior Will Freed (Carlsbad, Calif./San Marcos) completed 16-of-28 passes for 188 yards for ONU.
Clinging to a 7-6 lead late, Northern fumbled the ball at the Muskingum 9-yard line with 2:50 left in the game.
The Muskies promptly marched 86 yards and got to the ONU 3-yard line. But a 22-yard field goal with 24 seconds left was wide right and the Polar Bears escaped with the 7-6 victory.
ONU head coach Dean Paul became the school's all-time career wins leader with his 94th win as a Polar Bear. He entered the game with 93 victories at Ohio Northern and passed Tom Kaczkowski for the top spot on ONU's all-time career wins list.
"Having 94 wins at Ohio Northern is humbling," Paul said. "We have had a lot of very good players over the years. Very good coaches, too. We get great support from the University. It is truly a total team effort. I think we have 11 coaches at ONU right now that are the wins leader for their respective sports. That speaks volumes about what a great place Ohio Northern is."
Muskingum scored first after a Polar Bear fumble gave MU the ball at the ONU 13-yard line. It took three plays for Muskingum to score and it was 6-0 with 12:51 left in the first half. The extra point was low and was easliy blocked by the Ohio Northern defensive line and the score remained 6-0 at intermission.
Northern managed only 53 yards of offense and were 0-for-6 on third down in the first half.
Ohio Northern drove into Muskingum territory on each of its five second half possessions, rolling up 308 yards of offense in the final 30 minutes.
ONU took the second half kickoff and marched 75 yards in 11 plays for the go ahead score. Williams plowed in from 2 yards out to give the Polar Bears a 7-6 lead.
The next four trips into Muskie territory ended up with a failed fake field goal attempt, a pair of interceptions and the fumble at the MU 9-yard line with three minutes to go.
"We did not play well, but found a way to win the game," Paul said. "We knew Muskingum was a dangerous team that could have won several games this season. Al Logan is a good, experienced coach. They had a good plan. We were sloppy on offense and made too many mistakes on defense."
Ohio Northern out-gained Muskingum 361-268 in total offense and held the ball for 31:07.
The Polar Bears will return to action next Saturday with a home contest against Marietta at 1:30 pm.