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Views from the press box: Northern cruises past Musky, 42-7

ONU improved to 5-2 overall, 4-2 in the OAC with the victory on Saturday. John Kramer (left) and Brett Wonders (right) called the game for WONB Sports Radio. (Northern Review photo/ Grant Pepper)

On a dreary afternoon in New Concord, Ohio, ONU head coach Dean Paul sent out quarterback Ricardo Johnson for his first varsity start.

The sophomore would not disappoint.

Johnson went 14-17 for 116 yards and two touchdowns in a 35-point victory over Muskingum on Saturday. Ohio Northern’s defense allowed no first downs in the first half, as they were led by sophomore linebacker Zach Meronoff, who recorded nine tackles on the day.

The Polar Bears got off to a quick start, as senior Reed Allen returned the opening kickoff 91 yards to the house to get Northern on the board. ONU would strike again late in the first quarter, as Johnson drove the Bears down the field on an 11-play, 52-yard drive. The possession was capped off by a six-yard touchdown run by senior tailback Justin Magazine, putting ONU up 14-0.

Johnson converted a score of his own on Northern’s next possession, as he scrambled into the end zone from nine yards out to stretch the Polar Bear lead. ONU ended the half on an eight-play, 43-yard drive that resulted in a touchdown pass from Johnson to Allen. The Bears would go into locker room leading 28-0.

Muskingum’s offense found glimmers of success early in the third quarter, when they drove the ball to the ONU 22-yard line. Their field goal attempt was blocked, however, by ONU’s Justin Tello, and the Muskies would remain scoreless.

Northern made quick work of their next offensive possession, scoring on a 10-yard pass from Johnson to Magazine to increase the lead to 35. ONU’s last score of the day would come at the beginning of the fourth quarter, capping off an 11-play, 73-yard drive that took nearly six minutes. Magazine lunged into the end zone from a yard out for the Bears’ sixth touchdown of the day.

Muskingum found the end zone with just seconds remaining in the game, scoring on a one-yard touchdown rush that concluded a 19-play, 83-yard drive that took nearly 10 minutes.

With the blowout win, ONU improved to 5-2 overall, 4-2 in the OAC. Muskingum fell to 0-7 overall, 0-6 in the OAC with the loss.

Brett Wonders and John Kramer were in New Concord on Saturday, calling the game for WONB Sports Radio. They shared their thoughts on the game.

Brett: The Polar Bears went into New Concord and set the tone from the beginning as Reed Allen returned the opening kick 91 yards for a touchdown. Ohio Northern never looked back as an impressive defense and almost equally impressive special teams set the offense up with short fields all day long. It took a whole half of football for Musky to muster a first down against the stout Polar Bear D. As such, ONU's average starting field position for the game was their own 46, nearly in Muskingum territory. New QB Richardo Johnson III and the offense took advantage and cruised to 42 points. Nice complete win for ONU as they head down the stretch run.

John: The Muskingum game got out of hand quickly, fortunately it was in favor of the Polar Bears. Despite question marks, and the obvious disappointment that Will Freed was out for the game injured, Ricardo Johnson exceeded all expectations. A stellar performance led ONU to a dominating victory. Hopefully RJIII can continue this level of play until Freed is ready to return to the field.

The Polar Bears will return home next Saturday to face Marietta (1-6 overall, 1-5 in the OAC) on Halloween night. Kickoff will be at 6 p.m.

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