Tigers trounce Ashland
MAPLE — The Northwestern High School football team opened its season Friday with a 33-12 victory over the Ashland Oredockers.
Special teams play gave Northwestern an edge as the Tigers made a pair of field goals and returned a kickoff 82-yards for a score. Northwestern also picked up a TD on a fumble return and ran the ball in twice from short yardage.
“Our special teams played outstanding,” said Dennis Scherz, Tigers head coach. “They got us a touchdown, got us great field position, got us some big kicks and some big field goals.”
Kicker Jordan Orme actually scored Northwestern’s first points of the game when he booted a 38-yard field goal on the Tigers’ opening drive.
Northwestern moved the ball 50 yards on the drive before fumbling on back-to-back snaps. That left the Tigers stranded at the 21-yard line in a fourth-and-four situation, and Orme was called onto the field.
“Some of the people here had to be passing out — ‘What are they doing kicking field goals?’ ” Scherz said. “Normally fourth-and-five we’d probably go for it, but we’ve got a lot of confidence in Jordan and we’ll take the three points.”
Northwestern added seven more points less than a minute later when Ashland fumbled on its second play of the game. The ball came lose at the 16 and senior Dakota Woerle scooped it up near the end zone to put the Tigers up 10-0.
“I saw both Micah (Goetsch) and Brandon Copp destroy the quarterback and the fullback, and I saw that ball just fly up,” Woerle said. “Justin Little tipped the ball up to me because he couldn’t reach it in time, so I grabbed it and got in.”
Turnovers proved costly for Ashland in the first half. The Oredockers lost the ball on fumbles on two of their three possessions in the first quarter. In the second quarter they turned the ball over twice on interceptions.
Nate Pearson’s pick with 7:13 left in the second quarter set up the Tigers’ second touchdown of the night.
He snagged the ball near midfield and returned it 28 yards to give the Tigers prime position on Ashland’s 22-yard line. Four plays later, Little ran in from one yard out to give Northwestern a 17-0 lead.
Ashland then answered with 91-yard drive to score its first points of the night.
Quarterback Eric Yachinich connected with John Sechen on a 37-yard pass to kick off the drive and then ran for 13 yards to pick up another first down. After that Yachinich went back to Sechen with a 38-yard touchdown pass.
The Tigers led 20-6 at halftime after Orme drilled another field goal — this time from 37 yards — and added to their lead minutes into the third quarter.
Woerle came up with the big play once again when he recovered a fumble on Ashland’s first snap of the second half. Sophomore Connor Johnson made the hit to knock the ball loose, and Woerle covered it up at the 26-yard line.
“He had a perfect tackle. That’s what we practice,” Woerle said. “It just popped out perfectly.”
Northwestern needed just three plays to find the end zone, with Pearson running in from four yards to cap off the drive.
Ashland and Northwestern then added one more touchdown apiece in the third quarter to finish off the night’s scoring. Sechen hauled in a 15-yard TD pass for Ashland, and Ryan Pufall returned the ensuing kickoff 82 yards for Northwestern’s final points of the night.
The Tigers will be back in action Aug. 29 with a 7 p.m. game at Grantsburg.
Northwestern 10 10 13 0 — 33
Ashland 0 6 6 0 — 12
N — Jordan Orme 38-yard field goal, 5:30.
N — Dakota Woerle 2-yard fumble return (Orme kick), 4:40.
N — Justin Little 1-yard turn (Orme kick), 5:24.
A — John Sechen 38-yard pass from Eric Yachinich (kick failed), 3:58.
N — Orme 37-yard field goal, 1:03.
N — Nate Pearson 4-yard run (kick failed), 10:43.
A — Sechen 15-yard pass from Brendan Carter (run failed), 1:19.
N — Ryan Pufall 82-yard kickoff return (Orme kick), 1:07.
First downs 9 9
Rushing yards 38 210
Passing completions-attempts 9-14 0-2
Passing yards 146 0
Touchdowns-interceptions 2-2 0-0
Total plays 41 50
Total offense 184 210
Fumbles-lost 4-3 3-2
Penalties-yards 5-37 8-40
Sacks-yards lost 0-0 3-10.0
Time of poss. 23:52 24:08
Punts-average 2-26.8 2-42.0