Tigers win to take over first in HONNorthwestern and Cumberland entered Friday night’s Heart O’ North’s football showdown in Maple with identical 3-0 records in the conference and 4-0 records overall. The Tigers built up a big first-half lead on homecoming night and then weathered a Beaver comeback attempt to win going away 30-14.
By: By Mke Granlund, Superior Telegram
Northwestern and Cumberland entered Friday night’s Heart O’ North’s football showdown in Maple with identical 3-0 records in the conference and 4-0 records overall.
The Tigers built up a big first-half lead on homecoming night and then weathered a Beaver comeback attempt to win going away 30-14.
There was almost no wind and it was a clear night when the game started. The Tigers took the opening kickoff and marched 65 yards on a touchdown drive capped off by a 5-yard Nathan Sikorski touchdown run. Jordan Orme kicked the extra point and it was 7-0 Tigers with 8:14 to go in the first quarter.
After forcing a three-and-out for Cumberland, the Tigers again marched down the field and got a Sikorski touchdown, this time from 6 yards out. The extra point attempt was blocked and it was 13-0 Tigers with 1:56 to go in the opening quarter.
After both teams traded unsuccessful drives, Northwestern put on another long drive ending with a Mark Pooler 2-yard touchdown run. Orme’s kick then made it 20-0 at the half for the Tigers.
Northwestern’s ball control offense in the first half kept the pigskin out of the hands of Cumberland’s explosive offense. Defensively, Duncan Magerl was all over the field in the half, disrupting Cumberland’s offense. The Tigers had almost 200 yards on the ground in the half.
In the third quarter the wind kicked up and it started to rain, making it a cold and blustery second half.
The change in weather also signaled a change of fortunes for the Tigers.
On the first series after the break, the Beavers scored with a 60-yard screen pass and run with Travis Miller scoring on the pass from Kyle Narges. Taylor Johnson’s PAT made it 20-7.
The Tigers then went three-and-out and punted. Cumberland put together a drive that culminated with 4:44 left in the third stanza and a 1-yard quarterback sneak for a touchdown by Narges. The PAT made it 20-14, and Tiger fans were uneasy as the Beavers had all the momentum and plenty of time.
The Tigers then got a couple first downs and moved the ball a little before turning it back over to Cumberland. Cumberland put on a drive looking for the lead, and with third and inches near midfield, the ball popped loose and into the hands of Tiger linebacker Justin Miesbauer.
After a couple first downs the Tigers were forced into a fourth and four at the Cumberland 5-yard line. Coach Dennis Scherz decided to bring in sophomore field goal kicker Jordan Orme, who split the uprights to give the Tigers a nine-point lead, 23-14, with 7:25 left in the game.
On Cumberland’s ensuing drive, star quarterback Narges hurt his shoulder and was forced from the game, essentially ending the Beavers’ comeback hopes.
Northwestern quarterback Peter Lindsay added a 33-yard touchdown run with 3:16 left, and that made the final score 30-14 for the home team.
The Tigers played their first game without two starters who were injured in last week’s victory over Hayward. Nick Murray and Jay Karich, both two-way starters, did not play.
Assistant coach Cody Fechtelkotter said the coaching staff challenged younger Tigers to step up and help the team and they did just that. Sophomore lineman Lucas Masterson looked good in his first start and juniors Mitch Graskey and Elias Alexandrou came up big on defense.
Defensive coach David Crail was pleased with his defense, as the Beavers had been averaging over 40 points a game.
The Tigers punishing ground game got 310 yards with Sikorski getting 154 on 22 carries, and Pooler adding 115 yard on 23 carries. Micah Olson caught the only pass attempted by Lindsay for 11 yards.
Cumberland could manage only 42 rushing on 25 carries but got 218 yards passing, mostly from Narges. Miller caught seven passes for 137 yards and one touchdown.
Defensively, freshman safety Nate Pearson led Northwestern with seven tackles and his brother, senior Grant Pearson, added five.
Northwestern is now 4-0 in the HON and faces Barron next week on the road. Barron is in contention in the HON with a 3-1 record after a 24-14 win over Hayward.
Spooner lost a heartbreaker Friday in overtime to Bloomer by 30-27. Both of those teams are now 2-2 in the HON.
TIGER TALES: At halftime of the game, Grant Pearson and Aliex Friend were named King and Queen of Northwestern’s Homecoming court.
NHS — Nathan Sikorski 5-yard run (Jordan Orme kick).
NHS — Sikorski 6-yard run (kick blocked).
NHS — Mark Pooler 2-yard run (Orme kick).
CHS — Kyle Narges 60-yard pass to Travis Miller (Taylor Johnson kick).
CHS — Narges 1-yard run (Johnson kick).
NHS — Orme 25-yard field goal.
NHS — Peter Lindsay 33-yard run (Orme kick).
Team stats NHS CHS
Rushing yards 319 63
Passing completions-attempts 1-1 13-23
Passing yards 11 218
Touchdowns-interceptions 0-0 1-0
Total offense 330 281