“It was a huge spark,” Lenahan said. “We knew we needed to get something going, either on offense or defense. Our two defensive ends came out and took him down.That was definitely a momentum swing right there. From there, we just kept going.”
Western followed with a quick scoring drive, going 55 yards in eight plays to draw within 14-9 at 7:58 of the third quarter. The Panthers kept the ball on the ground throughout the drive with Alexander scoring on a 3-yard run.
When Northwestern went three-and-out on its next series, Western clearly had momentum, and the Panthers added to with another eight-play scoring drive. The Panthers once again attacked with a heavy dose of power running. Glenn capped the 48-yard drive with a nifty 13-yard score and Alexander added a two-point run, putting Western up 17-14 at 3:33 of the third quarter.
Western followed with the knockout punch.
The Tigers coughed up a fumble five plays into their next series, and Alexander ripped off a 32-yard TD run. Zac Simpson’s kick made it 24-14 with 1:27 left in the third quarter.
The Panthers kept the 24-14 lead until deep in the fourth quarter, then tacked on the final score after Bellus sacked Richmond and forced a fumble. The Panthers recovered on the doorstep of the end zone and Alexander scored on a 3-yard run.
Northwestern coach John Hendryx pointed to the start of the second half as where it all went awry for his squad.
“The two biggest plays of the game happened back to back — the holding penalty that got us deep, then the safety. And then it just snowballed,” Hendryx said. “I told the kids after the game, there wasn’t much fancy. We got out-blocked, we missed a lot of tackles, and we turned the ball over way too much. [The Tigers finished with six turnovers.] Very, very frustrating. I give [the Panthers] credit, they played hard, but we didn’t do much to help ourselves.”