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Defense leads the way for JCU in 28-23 win over ONU

October 25th, 2012

As the Blue Streaks proved in a 28-23 triumph over Ohio Northern University on Saturday, Oct. 20, revenge is a dish best served with heavy doses of Mark Myers, Jimmy King, Kevin Cope and the Greenwood brothers. A stellar performance by the JCU defense led the way, as the unit posted two impressive goal-line stands to give the team its first victory over the Polar Bears since 2005.

Retribution was on the minds of the Blue Streaks, as they prepared for their OAC foes. JCU defensive tackle Michael Green’s message written on his taped wrist best summed up the squad’s feelings: “Redemption: Take It.” After falling in heartbreaking fashion to ONU last season, JCU was eager to jump on the Polar Bears early and achieve a blowout win for the fourth consecutive game.

But ONU came roaring out of the gate and dashed those hopes, as its defense intercepted sophomore quarterback Mark Myers on JCU’s opening drive. When the Blue Streaks got the ball back, a high snap over Myers’ head gave the Polar Bears a safety. After the ensuing punt, quarterback Tate Humphrey led his offense down the field and helped ONU extend its lead to 9-0 with a 1-yard run.

The Blue Streaks’ potent offensive attack soon struck back. Myers led the offense down the field on a quick drive, which was completed by a 20-yard touchdown reception by junior Alex Kline from Myers. After watching JCU assistant coach Tom Zagorski and fullback Anthony D’Aurizio exchange their customary chest bump after the extra point, it appeared as if the Blue and Gold were ready to take back the lead. But a 51-yard touchdown strike from Humphrey to receiver Frank Thien ended any hopes of ONU succumbing the lead easily.

Faced with a 16-7 deficit early in the second quarter, Myers and the JCU offense answered with a methodical, 15-play, 95-yard drive. Senior Sean Kuenzig ran the ball into the end zone from three yards to again bring the Blue Streaks to within two points. ONU’s punter then juggled a punt, giving JCU great field position. On the next play, junior running back Randy Greenwood hurled a 29-yard touchdown pass to his brother, Aramis, on a halfback pass play, giving JCU a 21-16 lead.

The Blue Streaks started the second half like they ended the first. Randy Greenwood blocked ONU’s punt on their first possession of the half, to give the JCU offense a golden opportunity to score from the ONU 20-yard line. Kuenzig again helped the Blue Streaks capitalize, pounding the ball into the end zone for a 28-16 lead. The relentless JCU defense remained on the prowl, forcing a Tate Humphrey fumble. The Blue and Gold’s offense remained dominant, as Myers connected with Lane Robilotto on a 59-yard bomb to set up the Blue Streaks deep in Polar Bear territory. The drive stalled, however, setting up Kresimir Ivkovic for a 30-yard field goal attempt, which the sophomore barely missed.

ONU’s offense came alive again late in the third quarter, as signal caller Humphrey completed a 12-yard TD pass to Justin Wilson to narrow the lead to 28-23. In the fourth quarter, the name of the game became defense. The Polar Bear offense bent the JCU defense but could not break it throughout the final period. The ONU quarterback slowly drove his team down the field to the JCU 6-yard line for first and goal midway through the final quarter. The Blue and Gold would allow the Polar Bears to grind their way to the 1-yard line, but stopped them there on fourth and goal.

The JCU coaching staff was content to kill time off the clock by handing the ball to running backs Kuenzig, Greenwood and senior DaQuan Grobsmith. The trio was successful, leaving ONU at its own 35-yard line with 2:17 left. The Polar Bears worked their way to JCU’s 4-yard line with 4 seconds remaining. The hearts of the nearly 2,500 JCU faithful pounded as Tate Humphrey lined up opposite the Blue Streaks’ defense. JCU defensive coordinator Brian Cochran dialed up a blitz, which almost allowed the defense to sack Humphrey. But the quarterback somehow got the pass off, which flew into the trustworthy hands of linebacker Kevin Cope for the game-sealing interception.

JCU head coach Regis Scafe was pleased to secure the critical victory, which brings the team to 5-2 (4-2 in the OAC).

“It was a huge win. Maybe it was because we hadn’t beaten them since 2005, but we had trouble putting them away,” said Scafe. “It is a huge weight off of our shoulders and one large step to improve from last season. More importantly, close games like this really bring a team together.”