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July 4, 2020

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Furious 4th-quarter rally falls just short as John Carroll holds off Football 28-23 on game's final play

By Tim Glon

Ohio Northern rallied from a 28-16 deficit, but were held scoreless on two trips inside the 5-yard line in the fourth quarter and fell 28-23 at John Carroll Saturday night at Don Shula Stadium.

The Polar Bears fall to 2-5 overall and 2-4 in the Ohio Athletic Conference, while the Blue Streaks improve to 5-2, 4-2.

Senior Tate Humphrey completed 21-of-43 passes for a career-high 306 yards and a TD and ran 21 times for 30 yards and another score for ONU.

Senior Carter Paul ran 25 times for 54 yards, senior Anthony Fletcher caught seven passes for a 95 yards and senior Frank Thein caught three passes for a career-high 105 yards and a score for the Polar Bears.

Mark Myers completed 16-of-30 passes for 256 yards and one TD for John Carroll.

ONU were stopped on four plays inside the JCU 6-yard line midway through the fourth quarter, then drove 61 yards to the JCU 4-yard line in the game's final seconds but were again thwarted.

With 4.1 seconds left, the Polar Bears had one final chance to win the game. Humphrey was trapped in the backfield and his desperation pass while in the clutches of two Blue Streak defenders was intercepted in the end zone.

"I am very proud of the way we battled back," ONU head coach Dean Paul said. "We put ourselves into a position to win the game, but unfortunately we did not get it done. There were a couple of moments in the game where we could have hung our heads and let the game get away from us, but we kept playing hard. Our defense did a great job holding a terrific offense in check for the most part and we had our chances to win the game at the end."

Earlier in the period on a 4th and goal play from the 1-yard line, Carter Paul appeared headed into the end zone on a sweep, but was stopped just inches short of the goal line and the Blue Streaks took over on downs with 7:46 left in the game.

Northern got on the board first when a bad snap sailed into the end zone, where junior Sean Denson tackled Myers for a safety and ONU had a 2-0 lead just 2:52 into the game.

On ONU's ensuing possession, Humphrey plowed over for a 1-yard touchdown run on a 4th and goal play to make it a 9-0 game with 5:59 left in the first period.

Myers found Alex Cline on a 13-yard touchdown pass to pull the Blue Streaks within 9-7 with 2:59 left in the first period.

Humphrey found Thein on a 51-yard TD pass on the first play of the second quarter to put the Polar Bears up 16-7.

Sean Kuenzig scored on a 3-yard run to pull JCU within 16-14 with 5:19 left in the first half.

A dropped snap from center on a Polar Bear punt led to another Blue Streak score. Aramis Greenwood threw a halfback pass to Randy Greenwood for a 29-yard touchdown with 2:57 left in the opening half and JCU led 21-16 at intermission.

A blocked punt on ONU's opening possession of the second half gave JCU the ball at the ONU 20-yard line. It took the Blue Streaks just four plays to score on a 1-yard dive from Kuenzig and the hosts led 28-16 with 10:53 left in the third.

Senior Justin Wilson caught a 12-yard TD pass from Humphrey late in the third quarter to pull ONU within 28-23. Humphrey's pass on a 4th and 5 play was intended for Thein, but was deflected into the air where Wilson caught it in the end zone for the score.

The Polar Bears marched deep into JCU territory on its next possession, but a goal line stand by the Blue Streak defense stopped ONU at the 1-yard line with 7:46 left in the game.

Northern got the ball back on its 35 yard line with 2:17 left in the game and drove to the JCU 4-yard line before the intercepted pass in the end zone as time expired ended the game.

The Polar Bear defense was outstanding, holding the high-powered John Carroll offense to just 300 yards of total offense, 185 less that its season average. ONU had 379 yards of offense and ran 93 plays to just 58 for JCU.

Northern also held the ball for 35:07 to just 24:53 for John Carroll.

Sophomore Justin Tello had a team-high eight tackles for Ohio Northern.

The Polar Bears will return to action next Saturday with a 1:30 pm contest against Muskingum at Dial-Roberson Stadium.