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Views from the press box: football vs. John Carroll

The ONU football team takes the field against John Carroll on Saturday, looking for a big upset (ONU sports photo/Jose Nogueras).

The ONU football team takes the field against John Carroll on Saturday, looking for a big upset (ONU sports photo/Jose Nogueras).

The problems plaguing the ONU football team on Saturday were almost none of the problems they had all year. The offense was stagnant, the running game shut down, and the defense played as well as you could have asked. The main problem was that John Carroll was the #6 team in the country and they were here in Ada.

Walking into Dial-Roberson Stadium for the first time this season was refreshing; it finally felt like football was back. Welcomed in by rainy, overcast skies, and a temperature of just over 50 degrees, the team was prepped to play one of the best teams in the country, not just the OAC. Looking at the warm ups, something was different, there was an enthusiasm we hadn’t seen from this team before; it was homecoming weekend and the #6 team in the country was on their field.

The new gray uniforms were all the rage and looked great, debuting them on Saturday went almost as well as you could have planned.

When the game finally kicked off, it was ONU who looked like the better team, scoring on their first drive with a Devon Price touchdown catch from 20 yards out, just three minutes had passed. John Carroll answered early in the second quarter to make it a 7-7 tie. Not long after, Andrew DiMario gave ONU another lead, this time by three with a 21-yard field goal.

ONU took the lead to halftime, but you couldn’t help but feel like JCU would make their voices heard in the second half. With just a minute gone in the fourth quarter, the Blue Streaks tied it up at ten with a 43-yard field goal, much to the dismay of the strong Ada wind blowing throughout the contest. The scoring was done for the next seven minutes of game time, as John Carroll finally took the lead with just under five minutes left in the game with a touchdown pass to their fine WR, Aramis Greenwood.

That was simply the scoring summary, not the story of the game. The story of the game was a much more complex and less forgiving tale for Polar Bear fans. ONU had their fair share of chances in this one, not being able to come through when it counted and when their backs were against the wall.

The Polar Bear defense improved by nearly 300 yards, allowing that many less than a week prior against Heidelberg. The story of the game was missed opportunities by ONU. Two missed field goals by arguably the best kicker in the country, two turnovers, including a fumble through the back of the end zone for a touch back, and shutting down one of top QBs in the country were the chances they had.

A fumbled snap by honorable mention all-American QB Mark Myers in John Carroll territory is the one that really hurts, after ONU couldn’t score from just 40 yards out. The saving grace was a fumble by a tight end through the end zone for a touchback where ONU regained possession. Another tipping point was an unsportsmanlike penalty called on one of the ONU players standing on the sidelines after a Blue Streak player tumbled out of bounds.

Missed opportunities and an offense that couldn’t get going in the second half separated the #6 team in the country from the home-standing Polar Bears, and that’s what good teams do, win close game. The reason John Carroll won wasn’t necessarily because of what they did, but because of what ONU didn’t.

The road doesn’t get any easier next week, as #3 Mount Union comes to town, but if they play like this again and clean up their mistakes, this ONU team can pull off a win against a team that hasn’t been beaten in conference since 2005…when ONU pulled off the upset.    

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