The John Carroll University football team went on the road for their toughest test of the season to date this past weekend.
The Blue Streaks headed to Ada, Ohio to face the Ohio Northern University Polar Bears.
Ohio Northern entered Saturday’s contest ranked 12th in the nation by D3Football.com.
Ohio Northern flexed their muscles early.
On their second possession of the game, Ohio Northern faced fourth down and one on the John Carroll 48-yard line.
The Polar Bears hurried to the line of scrimmage and quickly ran a play which was good for seven yards.
Ohio Northern would go on to score four plays later, taking an early 7-0 lead. The Polar Bears would never look back.
ONU entered halftime leading 10-0, then came out firing on all cylinders to start the second half.
Two third-quarter Ohio Northern touchdowns extended their lead to 23-0 heading into the final period.
Trailing 23-0, the Blue Streaks pieced together an impressive eighteen play drive which covered 67 yards in just over seven minutes to narrow the gap.
Junior running back Tyler Gingrich and freshman running back Rai Stover carried the load all the way down to the two yard line.
From there, junior quarterback Mark Petruziello connected with classmate Peter Spachner for the Blue Streaks first score.
Senior Josiah Kedzior’s PAT made the score 23-7 with just over 14 minutes remaining in the game.
After three possessions each in which JCU and Ohio Northern failed to get anything going offensively, the Blue Streaks struck again for the game’s final score.
After getting the ball back with 4:30 remaining in the fourth quarter, Petruziello led the team on a ten-play, 80 yard scoring drive.
Petruziello hooked up with sophomore Rebere Sparks three times on the final drive, then capped off the scoring drive by keeping it himself and scoring on a one-yard run.
John Carroll head coach Regis Scafe was high with praise for his running back duo.
“They were outstanding. They both did a great job. They have similar running styles – Tyler is more power, and Rai brings great vision,” Scafe said. “Credit the offensive line – they did a fantastic job. Nobody has run on ONU like that all year.”
Stover and Gingrich combined for 31 carries for 149 yards – good for 4.8 yards per attempt.
Lost in the 23-13 final score are the opportunities JCU squandered.
The Blue Streaks offense out-gained the Polar Bears, yet allowed ten quarterback sacks and turned the ball over five times.
“Even with all the turnovers, we still had a chance to win the game, so it shows we played pretty well,” Scafe said. “Obviously, you can’t take away that stuff but we were our own worst enemies. Turnovers and a couple penalties in critical situations hurt – that was discouraging.”
He added, “On the encouraging side, we played with the number 12 team in the country, we played toe-to-toe with them, and I thought we were more physical than they were.”
The Blue Streaks have no time to hang their head’s after this weekend’s loss. Crosstown rival Baldwin-Wallace comes to do battle and renew their annual rivalry with the Streaks in Saturday afternoon’s Homecoming game.
Baldwin-Wallace is fresh off of a 34-0 win last weekend over Wilmington.
The Yellow Jackets enter Saturday’s contest with a record of 3-0 and are ranked 11th by D3Football.com.
Coach Scafe said he hoped to make it tough on the Yellow Jackets and hoped the support of the fans would assist the team in making the visitors uncomfortable.
The crosstown rivalry, which always produces a good game, will contain a bit more fireworks as JCU looks for the upset on Homecoming.