Dragons open season with 22-19 win at Northwood

Nick Watson passed for 338 yards and rushed for 48 more in Tiffin's 22-19 win at Northwood.
Nick Watson passed for 338 yards and rushed for 48 more in Tiffin's 22-19 win at Northwood.

Tiffin University (1-0) racked up 488 yards of offense and the defense stepped up with four interceptions, as the Dragons defeated Northwood 22-19 on the road in their season opening game.

The Dragons jumped out early, scoring the first nine points of the game and holding a 16-3 lead at halftime.

TU took their opening drive of the season and moved 93 yards in 14 plays, with the Dragons converting 4 third downs and capping the drive with a 23 yard run by Nick Watson at the 9:03 mark to make it 6-0.

On their next possession the Dragons nearly got another touchdown, driving 85 yards down to the Northwood 4 yard line before settling for a 21 yard field goal by A.J. Nickoli at the 1:27 mark to lead 9-0 at the end of the first quarter.

After the Timberwolves got the three points back with their own 38 yard field goal on their next possession, the Dragons stopped Northwood's next two possessions with interceptions by Daigien Morgan and Kevin Hyde

Tiffin got good field position with 2:21 left in the half, taking over at the Northwood 40 yard line. Four plays later Watson hit Marcus Whitfield on a nice 29 yard TD strike to make the score 16-3 with 1:16 left.

Carrington Contee then picked off another Northwood pass to end the half on a positive note for the Dragons heading to the second half.

Northwood came out in the second half looking to grab the momentum back, and a critical personal foul call against the Dragons extended NU's drive and led to a 12 yard TD pass that closed the score to 16-10, Tiffin.

Tiffin responded by once again driving deep into Northwood territory, reaching the 5 yard line before missing a 22 yard field goal. Combined with a blocked field goal in the first half, Tiffin failed to convert six points to open the door for the Timberwolves.

A big punt return to start the fourth quarter gave NU great field position on the Tiffin 42 yard line, and they quickly converted on a 42 yard TD pass to jump ahead of Tiffin 17-16 with 14:34 to play in the game.

The lead was shortlived, though, as Watson continued his excellent day by targeting his top receiver on the day, Stanley Jackson. TU drove 80 yards on their next possession, with Jackson making an 19 yard grab and then capping it off with a 39 yard touchdown catch at the 12:00 mark to put TU back up 22-17.

The Dragons defense held firm, stifling Northwood on their next two possessions with the clock moving. With Northwood trying again at the 5:33 mark, the Timberwolves moved downfield, reaching the Tiffin 24 yard line before Ross Moore made another huge interception to kill the drive with 1:01 to play.

Overall the Dragons totaled 488 yards of offense while Northwood finished with 286. The Dragons were lethal through the air, outgaining Northwood 338-100.

Tiffin had no turnovers in the game while making 4 interceptions defensively. The Dragons also had 140 yards in penalties which helped to keep Northwood close in the game.

The Dragons had numerous standout players offensively, with Watson finishing with 338 yards on 20 of 34 passing with 2 touchdowns. Jackson had a massive 179 yards receiving on 7 catches, while Gavin Woods also had 47 yards, Marcus Whitfield added 56 more, and Devin Butler had 36 yards through the air.

On the ground, JaQuan Hardy, Kyle Brunson, and Watson combined for 176 yards rushing. Hardy had 79 yards on 14 carries, Brunson finished with 49, and Watson tacked on 48 yards.

Defensively Latrell Robinson and Jacob Mertus had 10 tackles apiece, while Charlie Cleveland also had 9 tackles with 1.5 tackles for loss. Ross Moore and Zach Goecke had 8 tackles each, while A.J. Wright had 4 tackles with a sack. Moore, Morgan, Contee, and Hyde all had interceptions.