UPDATED: Tigers roar with big second halfPolkoski shatters Northwestern TD record
By: By Mike Granlund, For The Telegram, Superior Telegram
CUMBERLAND — The Northwestern Tiger football team survived a first-half scare with a huge second half to defeat Cumberland 56-14 Friday night at Moser Field in Cumberland.
The win puts Northwestern at 7-0 on the year and 5-0 in the Heart O’ North Conference.
Ladysmith kept pace and is also 5-0 in the HON after a 26-20 victory over Spooner.
TJ Polkoski enjoyed a huge game for the Tigers. Not only did he rush for 178 yards on 27 carries, but the senior scored four times to set a new NSH touchdown record with 46. The previous record of 43 was shared by Bryan Wedan and Ryan Miesbauer.
Northwestern’s ground game rolled to 544 yards rushing. Helping out Polkoski were Kasey Leggate with 158 yards on 18 carries, and Zak Anttila had 114 to all top 100 yards rushing. The Tigers also got 66 yards from Justin Miesbauer.
Cumberland had only 17 yards rushing but got 330 passing, including 279 from senior Sam Clark, who was 18-for-24. Brady Rose caught eight passes for 112 yards, Adam Bielemeier had six for 114 and Matt Smith had three for 51.
The Tigers took the opening kickoff and marched 76 yards on eight plays, capped off by a 38-yard Anttila touchdown run. The point after kick failed and it was 6-0.
Cumberland then answered with a score on a 25-yard pass from senior quarterback Sam Clark to junior Rose. Taylor Johnson’s kick made it 7-6 Beavers and the Tigers found themselves behind.
A methodical 10-play, 61-yard drive with Polkoski scoring from three yards out gave the Tigers the lead back. Mac Torre scored on the extra-point run and it was 14-7.
After the teams traded defensive stops, Northwestern appeared to stop Cumberland again on a key third down play, but a personal foul penalty gave Cumberland the ball at midfield.
Clark quickly went to work with another long pass, this time a 50-yard touchdown to Bielmeier for a score. Johnson’s kick after made it 14-14 with 3:52 left in the half.
Northwestern made the next drive count, mostly with runs by Polkoski, including a 5-yard touchdown with 1:41 to go in the half. Adam Holden’s kick gave Northwestern the lead for good, 21-14.
Cumberland got the ball to start the second half and on the first drive, Mac Torre’s key tackle foiled a Beaver fake punt attempt and gave Northwestern the ball on Cumberland’s 23-yard line.
Polkoski scored on the next play and with Holden’s kick it was 28-14 for Northwestern. Another stop by the Tiger defense set up a 41-yard punt return by Kasey Leggate. The short field resulted in Polkoski’s fourth touchdown of the night and a 35-14 Tiger lead after three quarters.
Early in the fourth, Leggate went 15 yards for a touchdown to make it 42-14. When the Tigers got the ball back they got down to the Beaver 4-yard line with 6:44 to play in the game when they put in their reserves. Torre then scored up the middle on the next play, and it was 48-14.
A Cumberland drive was stopped on downs followed by a long drive by the Tiger reserves highlighted by a Justin Miesbauer 40-yard run. Mike Naumann then scored from 3 yards out and Miesbauer’s extra-point run made the final 56-14 with 1:19 to play.
Defensively for Northwestern Justin Alexson had three sacks and another tackle for a loss. Sam Schiff had the game’s lone interception.
After the game Northwestern coach Dennis Scherz praised the offensive line (Brandon Rounsville, Taylor Truan, Logan Tuura, Jake Levine and William Pederson).
“They did everything we asked and we are happy with them,” Scherz said.
When asked to comment on Polkoski’s record-setting performance, Scherz said, “He’s pretty good.”
The NHS coach also praised Cumberland’s offensive effort and credited his assistant coaches with making key halftime adjustments to counter the Beaver passing attack.
Asked to compare this year’s team with last year’s conference championship team, Scherz said, “They are two different teams; last year’s team will always be special to me because they brought us back to Northwestern football. This year’s team is making its own mark, and both are outstanding teams.”
Northwestern returns to Tiger Stadium Friday to face Hayward at 7 p.m. The game may be heard on WNXR radio (107.3 FM) and seen on the web on www.ifan.tv.
Northwestern 14 7 14 21 — 56
Cumberland 7 7 0 0 — 14
N — Zak Anttila, 38-yard run (kick failed)
C — Brady Rose, 25-yard pass from Sam Clark (Taylor Johnson kick)
N — T. J. Polkoski, 3-yard run (Mac Torrey conversion)
C— Adam Bielmeier, 51-yard pass from Clark (Johnson kick)
N — Polkoski, 5-yard run (Adam Holden kick)
N — Polkoski, 23-yard run (Holden kick)
N — Polkoski, 2-yard run (Holden kick)
N — Kasey legate, 15-yard run (Holden kick)
N — Torrey, 3-yard run
N — Mike Naumann, 2-yard run (Justin Miesbauer conversion)
First downs 29 15
Rushing yardage 544 17
Pass comp - att 0-2 21-30
Passing yards 0 330
Pass TD – int 0-0 2-1
Total plays 63 53
Total offense 544 347
Fumbles - lost 1-0 0-0
Penalties - yards 3-20 3-24
Defensive sacks - yards lost 0-0 0-0
3rd down efficiency 4 for 5 2 for 9
4th down efficiency 0 for 0 0 for 2
Punts - average 1-43.0 4-34.8