The Red Raider football team opened its season on September 3 against Sterling College as part of the GPAC/KCAC Challenge. In a competitive, back and forth game that came down to the final play, the Red Raiders fell to Sterling 28-21.
Early on in the matchup the defenses set the tone. Sterling struck first with 16 seconds left in the first quarter on a 16 yard touchdown run to make it 7-0. After forcing the Red Raiders to punt, Sterling found the end zone again on a 42 yard touchdown pass to open second quarter scoring and make it 14-0.
The Red Raiders rallied back and added a score on a 40 yard pass from quarterback Jonathan Kodama to wide open receiver T.J. Spykstra to make it 14-7. Northwestern found pay dirt on the opening drive on the second half on another beautiful Kodama to Spykstra touchdown pass to even the score at 14.
The score remained tied until Sterling forced a Red Raider turnover and scored a 19 yard touchdown pass at the beginning of the fourth quarter. Northwestern received the ensuing kickoff and marched the ball down the field and scored the tying touchdown on a 12 yard Jevon Jackson carry. Sterling, however, got the ball back and went 70 yards to score what would be the game winning touchdown. The Red Raiders got the ball back two more times but was stopped on fourth down the first time, and Sterling forced an incomplete pass on the final play of the game.
Northwestern passing attack was led in passing by Kodama went 27 for 49, for 327 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.
The Red Raider rushing attack was led by redshirt freshman Jevon Jackson with 85 yards on 14 carries and a touchdown.
Spykstra finished the game with 95 yards on 5 catches with a pair of touchdowns and the leader for the Red Raider receiving corps was J.C. Koerselman hauling in 11 catches for 132 yards, both career highs.
Defensively the Red Raiders were led by Donavan Weldon and Jacob Jenness who had 6.5 and 5 tackles, respectively. Jerod Hansen also added two interceptions for the Northwestern defense.
The Red Raiders (0-1) will travel to Dickinson, ND on September 10 to face the #21 Dickinson State Blue Hawks.