For the first time in three years, the Northwestern football team has started the season with consecutive wins after a hard fought 21-18 win on Friday night against Northeastern on a miserable, rainy cold night.
After only winning one game last season, they have started the season with a 2-0 record already surpassing their total wins last season when they finished 1-9.
The Warriors held a slim seven-point lead at the half before pushing their lead to 21-6 heading to the fourth period, only to hold on and survive for the slim victory.
“The most important thing is we have guys who haven’t gotten meaningful snaps with game on the line in the past and they competed down the stretch today,” Northwestern coach Shane Carter said. “They are continuing to learn to win”
“We are optimistic to be 2-0. We will watch the film where we made the mistakes we made and continue to make improvements.”
Northeastern opened the game with a big threat as they returned the opening kickoff back to the Warriors 35 yard line before stalling out at the 21 yard line.
The host Warriors then put together a long drive, only to come away with no points on the board. Northwestern then took over near the end of the first quarter and opened a drive with a big play from Chris Hart to Jalen Minney setting up the Warriors inside the 15-yard-line. Four plays later, Eli Berner scored from seven yards out on the second play of the second period, grabbing a 7-0 lead.
Adam Riedinger pressured the Jets quarterback on fourth down on their next drive to stop the visitors just across midfield.
Northwestern missed a field goal on their next trip down the field, then the Warriors defense went to work.
In what turned out to be a huge defensive series, Northeastern reached the six yard line on a first and goal. Phoenix Benner had a huge sack which started four consecutive defensive plays for the Warriors.
Berner scored in the third period on a short two-yard pass from Hart to push the Warriors lead to 14-0 before the Jets found the scoreboard on an interception return for a score.
Leading 14-7, Minney took a 34-yard pass from Hart for a touchdown to make it 21-6 before Northeastern scored twice in the fourth quarter before the Warriors survived for the win.
“In the fourth quarter, we wanted to control clock and keep the ball inbounds,” Carter said. “We were able to do things in the running game and passing game which allowed us to move the ball. It was a true test for the kids will and for the coaches to finish off the game.”
Northwestern now prepares for their first road game of the season at Milton Union on Friday night.
“They have a good program and we need to keep the kids focused and prepared to compete,” Carter said. “We need to continue to develop this program with the things expected.”
Taveont Dennis-Miller rushed for 89 yards to lead Northwestern, while Austin Stanley added 84 yards. Minney also had 104 receiving yards.