Northwestern hosted Midland University on Saturday, Nov. 15, and despite a snow-covered Korver Field, the Raiders were able to come away with a 22-2 win. The win on Senior Day gave NW a regular-season record of 8-2 and a 12th-place ranking heading into the post-season. Because of Morningside’s upset loss against Doane, NW won its share of the GPAC title. It marks the first conference title for NW since 2000. NW will be competing in its third straight postseason contest.
“It feels awesome to make the playoffs three years in a row,” said senior receiver Ben Green. “Just to be part of a team that is making school history is an amazing feeling. I couldn’t ask for a better group of guys to do it with.”
The Raider defense made an impact early with an interception by junior linebacker Court Ecklund on the ﬁrst play of the game. Shortly after that, sophomore kicker Julian Dittman put the ﬁrst points of the game on the board for the home team with a 25-yard ﬁeld goal with 11 minutes left in the ﬁrst quarter.
After the defense forced the Warriors to punt, the Raiders increased their lead when junior running back Jessie Riley reached the end zone from 24 yards out. The Raiders held a 9-0 lead at the end of the ﬁrst quarter after failing to convert on the extra point.
The two defenses battled over the next two quarters to hold each other scoreless as they headed into the fourth quarter. Sophomore running back Paul Hutson started the fourth quarter with a two-yard punch into the end-zone to ﬁnish off a 15-play, 83-yard drive. In an attempt to make up for a failed extra point earlier in the game, NW went for the two-point conversion but an interception and 98-yard return gave Midland their only two points of the game.
With just under ﬁve minutes left, Hutson capped off the Raiders’ scoring with a 1-yard rush and his second score of the game.
NW had 346 yards of total offense and 19 ﬁrst downs while holding Midland to 268 yards and 15 ﬁrst downs.
Sophomore quarterback Craig Bruinsma went 16-21 passing with his top targets being sophomore wideout Landon Johnson, who collected 98 yards, and senior receiver Ben Green, who recorded 41 yards. Riley rushed 15 times for 94 yards and a score while Hutson carried the ball 18 times for 80 yards and two touchdowns. Ecklund and junior defensive lineman Lawton De Jong led the defensive effort with six and a half tackles each. Ecklund and senior defensive back Jermaine Ambrose each recorded an interception.
The Raiders will travel to Marshall, Mo., to take on Missouri Valley College for the second straight season in the NAIA Championship Series. Kickoff is set at 12 p.m.
“Obviously, we have to put up points to win,” Green said. “Our team finds a way to win, and when you have the best defense in the nation on your side, it might not take quite as many.”