Down 38-24 with 5:30 to go in the game, freshman quarterback Nick Iske (Hilliard, Ohio) connected with junior wide receiver Jake Skelton twice, each for gains of greater than 10 yards, to help move the ball down the field in a hurry. Coupled with Iske's rushing ability, the Crusaders drove all the way to the goal line in four minutes before Iske bullied into the end zone from one yard out. Joe Riley's point after attempt made the game a one-score contest, 38-31, and foreshadowed an inevitable onside kick.
Keegan Irwin lined up with the hands team but his low-lining kick was recovered by the Polar Bears. Justin Magazine helped acquired a first down with eight and six-yard runs in succession to shut the door on Capital's comeback effort.
Ohio Northern (3-4 overall, 2-3 OAC) separated from the Crusaders late in the second quarter with two scoring drives that ended with scoring plays of 60 yards or more. They added a third scoring play of greater than 60 yards to open the second half. Of those three long-distance scoring plays, two went to wide receiver Reed Allen.
With Capital leading 11-7 in the second quarter, Ohio Northern's first play from scrimmage on the next drive went for 60 yards on a pass from quarterback Patrick Angle to Reed. On their next offensive set, it took three plays to find the end zone. This time, Angle found Devon Price for a 61-yard pass play to help take a 10-point lead, 21-11, with over three minutes remaining before halftime.
Out of the half, the Polar Bears mounted another three-play drive that ended with a long-yardage scoring play. Allen was once again found going downfield, this time for 72 yards.
Capital rallied with consecutive scoring drives that resulted in a touchdown to draw within one score. Iske pulled his weight on the ground and in the air by completing a pair of passes to Cory Heeter and Brent Walton to get inside the red zone. They posted their first score of the second half when Iske ran up the middle from seven yards out for his second rushing touchdown of the day.
On their first full offensive possession of the fourth quarter, Walton busted a big play of his own to keep the Crusaders within earshot of the Polar Bears. Down 31-18, Walton broke off a 44-yard run straight up the middle of the Polar Bear defense, shedding one last tackle inside the five-yard line before hitting paydirt. Including that run, he had 66 yards on the ground in that drive alone.
Iske found the end zone three times over the course of the game, marking the second straight game he has accomplished the feat. He also posted a trio of touchdowns last week at Otterbein in a road loss.
Capital's defense suffered another setback by allowing 532 yards of total offense to Ohio Northern. Angle helped the Polar Bears rack up 398 yards through the air on 24-of-31 passing and four touchdowns. Price led the team with 11 catches and 170 yards with one touchdown while Allen made five catches for 157 yards and two scores.
The Crusaders did limit the Polar Bears' production on the ground, holding Magazine to just 67 yards on 16 attempts. Angle added 34 yards on 10 carries.
The rushing game was sound for Capital, featuring two runners who surpassed the century mark. Walton led the team with 144 yards, but Iske decided to make himself the workhorse with a team-leading 22 rushes while accumulating 115 yards and three touchdowns.
Cory Heeter added 28 yards on six carries, while Nolan Gill also chipped in 27 yards on three rush attempts. The Crusaders allowed nine different players to touch the ball on the ground, aiding in Capital's bid for its fourth 250-plus yard day on the ground and its first 300-yard game since opening weekend. They finished with 372 total team rushing yards.
The loss drops Capital to 2-4 overall on the season and 1-4 in Ohio Athletic Conference play. They have now dropped four straight games after beginning the season with two straight wins.
Capital will gear up for a road contest against John Carroll University (6-0 overall, 5-0 OAC) next Saturday, Oct. 25, at 1:30 p.m.