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Views from the press box: Bears tighten up D, roll over Capital

ONU tallied 529 yards of total offense in their 52-31 win over Capital on Saturday. (Northern Review photo/ Grant Pepper)

ONU tallied 529 yards of total offense in their 52-31 win over Capital on Saturday. (Northern Review photo/ Grant Pepper)

Coming into Saturday’s game against Capital, ONU knew what to expect from the Crusader offense. They were going to run the triple option, because it is in their blood.

More specifically, it is in the blood of their head coach, Craig Candeto. Candeto comes from an extensive background of triple option football. He was the starting quarterback at Navy in 2002 and 2003, where he rushed for over 1,000 yards and had 16 rushing touchdowns, while also passing for over 1,000 yards and recording seven passing touchdowns in his final year at the academy. Many believe that Navy patented the modern triple option look, featuring multiple potential rushers in the backfield on each play.

After Candeto retired from the Navy in 2009 as a lieutenant, he went into coaching. He was an assistant coach at Georgia Tech and The Citadel (both triple option programs) before getting the head coaching job at Capital.

So, as you can expect, Capital ran the triple option on Saturday.

And in the first half, ONU had no answer for the Crusader rushing attack. The Polar Bear defense gave up 351 yards and 21 points in the first half, with the vast majority of those yards coming on the ground.

While ONU started the game slow on defense, they turned things around in the second half and eventually ran Capital off the field. The Polar Bears recorded 529 yards of offense in a 52-31 home victory over Capital on Saturday afternoon.

Ohio Northern struck first, with just over nine minutes left in the first quarter. Senior tailback Justin Magazine reached the endzone on a one-yard touchdown rush to put the Bears up six.

A couple of big runs on Capital’s next offensive possession tied the score, however, as they drove 84 yards in just four plays. Capital began the second quarter with a rushing touchdown by Jake Breakey, putting the Crusaders ahead.

Northern would fire back on their next possession, though, as senior wideout Devon Price found space after a catch and ran 61 yards for the touchdown.

ONU struck again just two minutes later, as freshman quarterback Will Freed scrambled into the endzone on a 4th-and-2 play from the Capital 13-yard line. The Crusaders answered immediately, however, on another Breakey touchdown.

Senior kicker Matt Chaney capped off an eventful first half with a 46-yard field goal as time expired, putting the Bears up 24-21 going into the break.

Halftime proved to be the turning point in the game for ONU’s defense. After allowing 351 yards in the first half, the Polar Bear defense stepped up in the second half, as they allowed just 179 yards and 10 points.

The Crusaders scored on their first drive of the second half, as Isaiah Lyle broke free for a 51-yard touchdown run. ONU fired back just four plays later, however, as Freed found junior receiver Logan Ray for a 31-yard touchdown reception.

Bad news came for the Bears on that play, though, as Freed went to the sideline with an arm injury. While his status moving forward is still in question, he did not finish Saturday’s game.

Filling in for the freshman phenom was Ricardo Johnson, a sophomore from Saint Paul, Minnesota.

Johnson threw an interception on his first play from scrimmage, which set Capital up to score on a 39-yard field goal minutes later. The kick tied the score at 31 with 10:13 left in the third quarter.

After a few idle possessions, ONU struck again as time expired in the third quarter. Price rattled off a 52-yard touchdown run to put the Bears up seven heading into the fourth quarter.

Following a blocked field goal by the tough Northern defense, the Polar Bears capitalized on a 14-yard touchdown rush by Magazine. That score pushed the ONU lead to 14 with just under 8 minutes left to play.

Due to the nature of Capital’s offense (a running attack), the Crusaders had to move quickly to try to get back into the game in the fourth quarter. The Polar Bear defense would halt any further production, however, as Capital would not score again.

Johnson scored on a 1-yard QB keeper with 1:58 remaining to seal the deal, and ONU went on to win by a score of 52-31. Magazine ran for 152 yards, while Price recorded 151 receiving yards in the victory. While the home win was crucial for the Polar Bears following a rough week at Mount Union, Freed’s injury concerned many of the Northern faithful.

Brett Wonders and John Kramer called the game for WONB Sports Radio. Here were their thoughts on the game:

Brett: The Ohio Northern offense had no problem on Saturday rolling up and down the field as they put up half a hundred on Capital. The success continued even after an apparent arm injury to starting QB Will Freed. While this side of the ball dominated all game long, it was the adjustment that the defense made at halftime that was the difference. The final numbers don't look pretty for the unit (530 yards allowed, 31 points allowed), but for the most part, Capital was shut down in the final two quarters. The Polar Bears gave up 351 yards and 21 points in the first half compared to just 179 yards and 10 points in the second. Kudos to the coaching staff for the adjustments they made during the intermission and kudos to the players for executing them.

John: Solid win for ONU last week. It was one they needed to keep any hopes for a playoff berth alive. As nice as the win was, the defense gave up over 500 yards of offense. Even more troubling, freshman sensation Will Freed went down with a shoulder injury and it looks serious. Hopefully, he will be back for week 10, which should be ONU’s last tough game.

The Polar Bears improved to 4-2 overall, 3-2 in the OAC with the win, while Capital dropped to 2-4 overall, 2-3 in the conference in the loss. ONU will be back in action next Saturday afternoon, when they travel to Muskingum to take on the Muskies. Kickoff will be at 1:30 p.m.

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