The Utica College football team traveled to Ohio Northern University this past Saturday for their second non-conference game. Despite coming off of their first win last week, UC lost focus during the fourth quarter. Ohio Northern scored 15 unanswered fourth quarter points to top the Pioneers, 29-22.
The Pioneers were facing a long bus trip ahead of them, so head coach Blaise Faggiano wanted to do something fun for the team.
“It’s about an eight-hour trip but we made the best of it with a stop at the National Football League Hall of Fame,” Faggiano said. “It was really something to see with the team, and after, we had practice on the Hall of Fame field.”
After the Pioneers had their Hall of Fame practice, Ohio Northern was the next stop. The Polar Bears took the lead in the first quarter with an early touchdown pass to junior Logan Ray for 73 yards.
The second quarter was all UC. Junior Teddy VanGalen connected with senior Gregory Palmer for a 68-yard touchdown pass to tie up the game 7-7. Senior kicker Tom Woodburn ended the first half with a field goal to give UC a 10-7 lead.
UC went into the locker room confident and was looking to finish the game off strong.
“Our guys have worked incredibly hard this past year and they are ready,” Faggiano said. “This team plays great together and our seniors have stepped up to set the tone.”
As the second half opened up, UC wasted no time with two quick drives that resulted in a field goal and a touchdown to extend the lead 19-7. Woodburn ended the quarter with a 35-yard field goal, which also capped his day going perfect on all three field goal attempts.
After Saturday, Woodburn is now tied for second for the college’s all-time list with 162 points and holds the school record with 24 career field goals and 90 extra points.
The Pioneers were leading the game 22-20 going into the fourth quarter, but Ohio Northern was not giving up that easily. The Polar Bears blocked Woodburn’s punt in the beginning of the quarter. The momentum was with them and it only took them two plays to finish the drive regaining the lead 26-22.
The Pioneers continued to fight, but it seemed that the defense could not find a solution for Ohio Northern. They held the ball on offense for 12 minutes in the fourth quarter and added a field goal to increase their lead to 29-22. Polar Bears freshman quarterback Will Freed finished the game going 27 for 36 with 439 yards and three touchdowns. VanGalen put together another great performance, going 20 for 36 with 300 yards and two touchdowns.
On the defensive side of the ball, junior linebacker Juwan Wilson led his team with 13 tackles and senior defensive lineman Nick Woodman posted nine tackles and a blocked field goal in the fourth quarter. Wilson now has 143 tackles in his 16 career games with the Pioneers.
The Pioneers have their first conference game this Saturday against Morrisville State. UC is looking to learn from this game and enter conference play with one goal in mind, and that is to win.
“Like I said, this past year our guys have worked for a great season ahead,” Faggiano said. “Our upper classmen have really stepped up and we are all excited to see how the season plays out.”