Rusner’s kick gives Northwestern 2OT win over Eisenhower
Written by: Brian Hagberg on Saturday, September 22nd, 2018
ALBION, Pa. – Facing a third-and-long in double overtime and needing a score, any score, to win, Northwestern coach Mark Brooks wasted little time making his decision.
Despite a missed extra point in regulation and a blocked kick in the first overtime, Brooks put the game on the foot of sophomore kicker Preston Rusner.
Brooks’ faith in Rusner was rewarded as the 28-yard attempt sailed through the uprights to give the Wildcats a 37-34 homecoming win over Eisenhower at Rogers Field Friday.
“Preston’s also an offensive lineman, and if you know anything about olineman and kickers, they’re a different breed,” Brooks said. “He’s got ice water in his veins.”
The field goal capped a back-and-forth battle that saw both teams surrender double-digit leads in regulation.
“I hope games like this will pay dividends in our region schedule,” Eisenhower coach Jim Penley said. “We’ve been in some all-out brawls, but we want to be in those types of games. The effort is awesome.”
Eisenhower (1-4, 1-1 District 10 Region 2) took it to their hosts early as the Knights marched 65 yards in 11 plays to open the game. Ethan Chambers capped the drive with a 14-yard touchdown run to put Eisenhower up 7-0. The drive chewed nearly five minutes off the clock and 10 of the 11 plays-all runs-went for positive yards.
“This is a big, athletic defensive front and we were concerned about running the ball,” Penley said.
It looked like Eisenhower would hold Northwestern (4-1, 1-0 District 10 Region 3) to a three-and-out on its first possession, but the Wildcats opted to go for it on fourth-and-two from their own 44 and the gamble worked as quarterback Ryan Tewell found Jeremy Dohanic for a 20-yard pickup to keep the drive alive.
Jeff Bish broke through the middle on the next play and rumbled 36 yards to paydirt.
The Knights showed they were capable of breaking the big play on their next possession when Riley West found the edge and raced down the left side for a 48-yard score.
“It was good to see Riley West break out tonight,” Penley said.
Another 65-yard Eisenhower drive, this one needing just eight plays, saw Chambers pick up his second touchdown of the game on a 1-yard plunge. He had ripped off a 41-yard run earlier in the drive.
After a three-and-out, Eisenhower took the ball into Northwestern territory again with a chance to seemingly put the game out of reach. A pair of false starts put the Knights in third-and-long and Aaron Winkelman broke through to sack Owen Trumbull and force a punt.
“You can see the youth and inexperience (in the mistakes),” Penley said. “But that’s on me. I’ve got to get the guys to the point where that doesn’t happen.”
The mistakes proved costly as Dohanic burst through the middle and raced 46 yards to make it a one score game with 2:36 to go in the half.
“He’s a kid that worked so hard in the weight room,” Brooks said. “That hard work is paying off.”
After forcing the Wildcats to go three-and-out to start the second half, the Knights needed just three plays to add to their lead. Chambers showed his big play ability again taking it 59 yards for his third rushing touchdown of the game.
“Ethan’s just on a roll,” Penley said.
Brooks said he’s changed the team’s defensive philosophy a bit in that the Wildcats are willing to risk giving up an occasional big for a more complete performance.
“We’re not necessarily keying on one guy,” he said. “We want to be more sound across the board.”
Not to be outdone, Dohanic took the second play from scrimmage 40 yards for his second score of the game to cut the Eisenhower lead to 26-21.
The Wildcats forced the Knights to go three-and-out and Dawson Fiesler wove through the coverage and sprinted 77 yards down the right sideline to give Northwestern its first lead of the game, 28-26.
On second down during the ensuing possession, Trumbull tried to pitch to Nate Holt. The ball was a bit behind Holt, went off his right shoulder and Tony Dibello scooped it up for Northwestern.
“That fumble recovery was big for us,” Brooks said.
A facemask penalty on the play put the ball all the way down at the Eisenhower 5 and Dohanic needed just one play to put the ball in the endzone.
“A couple mistakes culminated in (losing the lead),” Penley said.
Northwestern had a 34-26 lead and the ball to start the fourth quarter and the Wildcats drove down to the Eisenhower 25. Tewell tried to run around the edge on third down, but a big hit dislodged the ball and Cael Black picked it up and raced 52 yards to set the Knights up in Wildcat territory.
Chambers punched in his fourth score of the night from two yards out, then ran in the 2-point conversion attempt to knot the game at 34-34.
Both teams had the ball in their opponent’s territory late in the quarter, but the defenses held and the game moved to overtime.
Northwestern had possession to start the first extra session and after Dohanic was stopped for a loss on third down, the Wilcats elected to try a field goal. The snap was bobbled and the delay allowed the Knights to break through and block Rusner’s kick.
Chambers got the edge on Eisenhower’s first play and dove into the endzone, but a holding penalty negated the play and the Knights were held scoreless.
Eisenhower had fourth-and-goal from the 1 in the second overtime and there was little doubt who would be getting the ball. Chambers tried to go straight up the gut, but the Wildcats swarmed to him and kept him just inches away from the goalline.
After a negative running play and incomplete pass, Brooks elected to try the field goal on third down. The snap and hold were clean, and Rusner put it through the uprights for the win.
Chambers finished with 237 yards and four touchdowns on 34 carries. Dohanic had 135 total yards and three scores.
Both coaches had high praise for each other’s programs after the game.
“This is a 4-1 2A team that has beaten some good teams,” Penley said.
“I give credit to coach Penley and the Eisenhower staff,” Brooks added. “That’s a good program.”
The Knights now turn their attention to the Region 2 race as they welcome Cambridge Springs (1-4, 1-1 Region 2) to the Pasture of Pain for homecoming.
“We’ve got to find a way to make more plays to get the win,” Penley said. “We could easily be 4-1 right now. This was a solid game. I hope this will get them rolling.”
Northwestern hits the road for a Region 3 contest with Iroquois. The Braves (1-4, 0-1 Region 3) picked up their first win of the season Friday with a 16-8 victory over Vincentian Academy.
Kickoff for both games is scheduled for 7 p.m.
Score by quarters
Eisenhower 14 6 6 8 0 0 – 34
Northwestern 7 7 20 0 0 3 – 37
E-Ethan Chambers 14 run (Jake Venman kick), 7:36
N-Jeff Bish 44 run (Preston Rusner kick), 5:24
E-Riley West 48 run (Venman kick), 3:10
E-Chambers 1 run (Venman kick blocked), 10:28
N-Jeremy Dohanic 46 run (Rusner kick), 2:36
E-Chambers 59 run (Venman kick missed), 9:40
N-Dohanic 40 run (Rusner kick), 8:46
N-Dawson Fiesler 77 punt return (Rusner kick), 7:06
N-Dohanic 5 run (Rusner kick missed), 6:07
E-Chambers 2 run (Chambers run), 6:23
N-Rusner 28 field goal
Team stats E N
Total plays 75 55
Rushes-yards 65-361 35-174
Comp-att-int 5-10-0 8-20-0
Passing yards 42 128
Total yards 403 302
Fumbles-lost 2-2 1-1
Rushing: Eisenhower-Ethan Chambers 34-237 4TD, Garrett Head 15-80, Riley West 7-62 TD, Nate Holt 4-3, Owen Trumbull 5-(-21). Northwestern-Jeremy Dohanic 15-102 3TD, Ryan Tewell 14-36, Jeff Bish 5-36 TD, Frankie Valletta 1-0.
Passing: Eisenhower-Trumbull 5-10 42 yards. Northwestern-Tewell 8-20 128 yards.
Receiving: Eisenhower-Zane Alexander 2-22, Chambers 2-6, Head 1-14. Northwestern-Tyler Sumner 3-53, Dohanic 2-33, Josh Schmidt 2-14, Jarrod Glasl 1-28.
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