Tigers rally past Dockers

The Northwestern High School football team pulled off a come-from-behind victory Friday night in Ashland on a 9-yard touchdown pass with 29 seconds to play.

Nate Pearson
Northwestern’s Nate Pearson (5) shakes off Ashland’s Ben Cashman (31) in the second quarter of Friday night's game in Ashland. (Jed Carlson/

The Northwestern High School football team pulled off a come-from-behind victory Friday night in Ashland on a 9-yard touchdown pass with 29 seconds to play.

Jared Anttila made the pass to Tyler Little on fourth-and-eight to give the Tigers a 21-14 win.

“Our kids put together a great drive,” said David Crail, NHS head coach. “It seemed like we were putting together a drive that could end in something special, and it did.”

The Tigers converted on two fourth-down attempts during the drive, both on passes from Anttila to Little.

Little, 6-foot-4, was the Tigers’ top receiver for the night. The junior had six catches and finished with 72 yards receiving. Four of his catches resulted in first downs, and one resulted in a touchdown.


Quarterbacks Matt Lindsay and Anttila combined for 134 yards on 11-of-21 passing. Anttila was making his first varsity start at quarterback and orchestrated Northwestern’s game-winning drive.

“I was thrilled with his performance and especially the poise he showed,” Crail said.

Northwestern opened the scoring in the first quarter, but Ashland took the lead with a touchdown and two-point conversion in the second. The Oredockers then controlled the ball for the first seven minutes of the third quarter and took a 14-7 lead on Ben Cashman’s run from two yards out.

The Tigers answered with a 75-yard drive highlighted by first-down runs from Carter Spangenberg and Jameson Pflug and catches by Noah Anttila and Little. Jared Anttila finished the drive on the first play of the fourth quarter when he scampered in from three yards out.

The Tigers tried for a two-point conversion but failed, leaving Ashland with a 14-13 lead.

The Oredockers had good position near midfield to start their next drive, but a tackle for a loss and a sack forced them to punt after three plays.

Northwestern’s series was just as brief as Ashland’s Brendan Carter intercepted a pass after four plays.

The Oredockers then used up about four and a half minutes of time before an illegal motion penalty forced them to punt.


The Tigers took over at their own 38-yard line trailing 14-13 and with less than four minutes on the clock.

Spangenberg gained two yards on the first play, and Jared Anttila picked up seven on the next. A holding penalty moved the ball back on third down, and the Tigers ended up in a fourth-and-five situation after a short run.

Anttila followed with the first of two critical first-down passes to Little. He connected for a 24-yard gain to preserve the drive, and two plays later he found Little again for a first down at Ashland’s 23-yard line.

Northwestern then went to its running game to inch closer. Spangenberg got the Tigers to the 15-yard line with a run up the middle, and Pflug charged across the 10 for a first down with 1:22 to play.

The Tigers picked up only one yard on their next three plays to put them in another fourth-down situation with 34 seconds to play.

Northwestern drew up a play for Anttila and Little, and with 29 seconds left, Little got open in the front of the end zone for the game-winning touchdown.

On the two-point conversion, Anttila lobbed a pass to Nicholas Johnson to give the Tigers a 21-14 victory.

“In general, it was a good win, one that certainly boosts confidence,” Crail said.


But, he added, Friday’s game was hardly error-free.

Northwestern fumbled the ball three times and threw three interceptions. The Tigers also committed 14 penalties, which cost them more than 100 yards.

“Many of our penalties were procedural in nature - just not playing fundamental football,” Crail said.

On defense, Northwestern held Ashland under 200 total yards for the night and came up with two interceptions. Johnson picked off a pass near the end of the first quarter, and Matt Lindsay ended the game when he snared Brendan Carter’s desperation throw in the final seconds of the fourth quarter.

Northwestern plays its home opener this week, hosting Osceola at 7 p.m. Friday in Maple. Osceola fell to Arcadia 17-14 in week one.

TIGER TALES: Northwestern played the entire second half without star running back Nate Pearson, who had about 70 yards rushing in the first half. He was held out of the second half as a precautionary measure and is still being evaluated for Friday’s game with Osceola, Crail said.


Northwestern.............. 7     0     0    14   -    21


Ashland...................... 0     8     6    0     -    14

First Quarter

N - Carter Spangenberg 11-yard run (Nate Pearson kick), 5:29.

Second Quarter

A - Terill Boltz 72-yard run (Jordan Coffland pass from Brendan Carter), 6:38.

Third Quarter

A - Ben Cashman 2-yard run (run failed), 5:00.

Fourth Quarter


N - Jared Anttila 3-yard run (run failed), 11:55.

N - Tyler Little 9-yard pass from Anttila (Nicholas Johnson pass from Anttila), :29.

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