In its last home game of the season, No. 19 Northwestern’s football team came up with a monumental 38-28 win to take down No. 1 Morningside on Saturday.
Led by an outstanding performance by senior running back and NAIA Offensive Player of the Week Theo Bartman, the Raiders improved their GPAC record to 6-2.
The scoring in the first quarter was even at one touchdown apiece. Bartman found the end zone on a nine-yard rushing touchdown.
In the second quarter, Morningside struggled to find an answer to the onslaught of scoring brought on by the Raiders. Coming off a 23-yard interception by sophomore Jake Zylstra, Bartman punched in another touchdown from seven yards out.
The defense came up big with another stop, NW drove the field and scored on a six-yard rushing touchdown by senior quarterback Davis Bloemendaal with 2:48 left in the half.
Thanks to another stop by the defense, and the Raiders got the ball back with 1:45 left. They marched down to the one-yard line, where Bartman found his way into the end zone with time expiring to give the Raiders a 28-7 lead at halftime.
The Mustangs started to make their way back into the game during the third quarter. Two unanswered touchdowns reduced NW’s lead to 28-21.
At the start of the final quarter, the Raiders extended their lead to 31-21 with a 34-yard field goal by freshman Julian Dittmann.
With Morningside threatening to score on its next drive, senior Isaiah Twitty came up with a huge forced fumble. The Raiders recovered the ball and made their way back into Mustang territory. With the ball at the one-yard line, Bartman rushed in for his fourth touchdown of the day, which put the Raiders up 38-21 with 6:41 left in the game.
“It was a complete team effort,” Bartman said. “The offensive line did a great job for us. The defense also did great by forcing turnovers and giving us good field position.”
Morningside answered quickly with a 28-yard touchdown pass of its own in just more than a minute to bring them within 10 points.
With 5:38 left in the game, NW’s defense continued to stay strong against the Mustang offense. Thanks to a forced fumble by junior Jermaine Ambrose and a recovery by the Raiders, NW sealed the victory.
Bartman had a career-high 37 touches for 191 total yards to go along with his career best four touchdowns. Twitty had 10 tackles, 2.5 of which were for loss.
“This game was huge, and it was a must win for us,” Bartman said. With the win, NW moved into playoff contention.
NW will travel to Midland on Saturday for its final regular- season match-up.