Western rocked Northwestern with a 24-point explosion in the third quarter and went on to take a 30-14 win in Mid-Indiana Conference football play Friday night on the Tigers’ field.
The Panthers trailed 14-0 at halftime before dominating the third quarter.
“Coach [Nate Andrews] came into the locker room and told us that we had to keep our heads up, we couldn’t get down on ourselves, because we knew that we didn’t play our best half of football,” Western two-way standout Ben Lenahan said. “We knew if we came back out and gave it our all, we’d get the W. That’s what we thought. The coaching staff did a great job.”
Western improved to 4-0 overall and 2-0 in league play while Northwestern dropped to 3-1 and 1-1. Defending champion Hamilton Heights, Western and Peru share the league lead.
Northwestern out-gained Western 172-93 in the first half of the rivalry game, which drew a big crowd. The Tigers scored on their first two drives to build a 14-0 lead. The Panthers turned the tables in the second half, out-gaining the Tigers 183-82.
“Very proud of the players and the staff for making the correct adjustments,” Andrews said.
The Panthers attacked with a relentless ground game, which was clicking on all cylinders in the second half. Lenahan finished with 118 yards on 20 rushing attempts, Ryan Alexander had 112 yards and three touchdowns on 19 carries, and Christian Glenn had 21 yards and a TD on three carries.
“Our offensive line, I wouldn’t trade those guys for anything,” Lenahan said. “The second half, they did the best job that I’ve ever seen. All credit goes to them. I can’t thank them enough.”
The Panthers set the tone for the second half with a defensive play. The Tigers received the opening kick and started at their own 21, but a holding call on a passing play left them facing second-and-24 from their own 7. Defensive end Corey Hinkle broke free to sack Tiger QB Trey Richmond in the end zone for a safety. Defensive end Drew Bellus also had pressure on the play.