After 39 years, Northwestern (NW) football claimed the title of National Champions. On Saturday, Dec. 17, 2022, the Raiders defeated No. 12 Keiser University 35-25.
“I’m just so happy for our guys. They’ve prepared and worked like champs all year. As a former player. It’s awesome to bring a national championship back to Orange City,” said head coach Matt McCarty. “Having an awesome home field advantage today showed out in force! I’m just so proud of our guys and what they have accomplished this year, this is pretty special.”
With two of the best offenses in the nation meeting up in Durham, North Carolina, it was a surprising first quarter with the score tied at zero. Approaching half-time, the Seahawks scored the first points of the game. A quick response by the Raider’s wide receiver Cade Moser, who broke free with a 69-yard catch and run, tied the score at seven going into halftime.
Coming out of the locker room, NW started with the ball. Moser was able to score with a 64-yard touchdown giving the Raiders their first lead of the game with 14-7. As the Seahawks gained possession, they tied up the game at 14-14 with a nine-play, 62-yard drive.
Keiser had another chance to regain control of the game with a NW fumble inside their own 20-yard line. Even with short field ahead, NW’s defense held firm and forced the Seahawks to attempt a field goal and take over the lead at 17-14. With five minutes left in the quarter, the Raiders started at their own 2-yard line. As the offense came in, Jaylen Gramstad gave them some breathing room with a 17-yard run. Two plays later Gramstad connected with Conner McQuillan for a 64-yard touchdown that put NW back up 21-17.
Starting the fourth quarter, the Raider defense had a massive fourth-and-one stop. The next NW possession was led by Gramstad with a 7-play, 48-yard drive leading to a three-yard touchdown by Blake Anderson and extending the Raiders lead to 28-17.
Keiser did not give up as they scored again and closed the lead down to three points. With under five minutes left in the game, Noah Van’t Hof sealed the Raider win with his second interception of the day and ending his NW career with that pick.
“It was a blessing,” Van’t Hof said on the moment. “It just felt like such a long journey that we arrived in the end. I was just so happy to be there with my coaches, teammates and fans. It was an overwhelming emotional moment.”
With the ball back and 1:33 left, NW secured the program’s third national title since the first in 1983.