The Northwestern Red Raiders football team traveled almost nine hours to Oklahoma on Saturday and defeated Bacone College in a non-conference game. The 55-37 win was a big step in the right direction for the young team with aspirations of making playoffs.
“People probably thought it wore us out, but the coaches and drivers did a good job stopping and spreading the trip out,” said senior linebacker Isaiah Twitty. “We just tried to relax and focus on the job in front of us.”
The Raiders’ offense got off to a strong start. They scored three touchdowns in the first eight minutes. The defense was also very active, as they forced a safety and stopped the opposition from gaining yards. The Raiders jumped on top early 21-0 and never let up.
“We really came together as a team, and the offense looked really good,” said junior wide receiver Ben Green. “The offensive line really held everything together, which gave the running backs a lot of room to work, ultimately opening everything up for the passing game. We took advantage of everything we got.”
Green was not kidding about taking advantage. Green finished the day with 177 receiving yards and three touchdowns, both career highs. His quarterback, senior Davis Bloemendaal, had an outstanding day in the pocket. He threw for 316 yards and four touchdowns, and had 82 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. Green and Bloemendaal both received NAIA National Player of the Week honors.
Though Green and Bloemendaal received national recognition, the entire team contributed to their success. Sophomore Jessie Riley rushed for 109 yards, a career high, and senior Theo Bartman rushed for 93 yards and two touchdowns. Bartman also received for 53 yards and a touchdown, which put his total at three on the day.
“I thought our defense line – we rotated eight or nine guys – I thought all of them played really well,” said head coach Kyle Achterhoff. “They were getting a lot of pressure on the quarterback making it difficult for them early on.”
The defense, led by senior linebacker captains Isaiah Twitty and Nate Van Ginkel, had eight sacks, forced a safety and two fumbles.
“We were very relentless on both sides of the ball,” Twitty said. “The offense was moving the ball quickly and fluidly. We (the defense) were getting stops and forcing turnovers. It almost seemed like we were in competition amongst ourselves to see who could get off the field quicker, but we were just having fun and competing hard.”