Black River's Caleb Simonson runs off the field after Black River recovered a Northwestern fumble during the second quarter. Aaron Josefczyk/ Gazette
SULLIVAN TWP. — One goal is checked off the list for the Black River football team’s seniors just two games into the season.
The Pirates dominated early and held on late to beat Northwestern 21-13 Friday, scoring their first victory against the Huskies since 2011.
“I think it’s great. That was one of the goals the seniors had, because they were 0-3 against Northwestern,” Black River coach Al Young said. “You have to feel good when you can check off one of your goals after Week 2.”
Senior running backs Travis Sexton, Jacob Campbell and Riley Gibbs got quarterback Riley Bartolic back in the huddle after missing the first game with an injured elbow. The seniors made sure Bartolic’s return went smoothly, pounding Northwestern (1-1) again and again with Campbell (23 carries, 107 yards) up the middle, Sexton (16, 168) to the right and Gibbs (12, 63) to the left.
“(Bartolic) has a lot of confidence in himself, and that’s really big for us,” Sexton said.
Sexton provided a shot of confidence, too, rushing for a pair of touchdowns, including a school-record 95-yarder in the second quarter.
“It was a great feeling,” Sexton said. “I just made one cut and went.”
“He was pretty whipped at the end of that,” Young joked.
The scamper came just three plays after Black River held the Huskies on a third-and-goal from the 6, when Derick Duvall fumbled and Black River senior Justin Zacharyasz recovered at the 1.
“I saw it come rolling out, and I just dove on it,” Zacharyasz said. “Having them at the 5 and then getting that ball, that was a big momentum change for us.”
The Pirates gave up a quick strike to Northwestern on the next series, as Wes Schaad got behind the secondary to catch a 74-yard TD from Mason Wilhelmy.
But the hosts responded with a 12-play, 65-yard scoring drive, capped by a 7-yard pass from Bartolic to Gibbs on fourth down for a 21-7 halftime lead.
After stopping Northwestern three-and-out to start the second half, Black River used an 11-play drive to get to the Huskies’ 1. A motion penalty pushed back the Pirates and Campbell was stopped a yard short on fourth down.
“We should have scored when we were down there,” Young lamented. “That would’ve made it 28-7. It’s a different game.”
The Pirates forced three-and-outs on the next two series but saw their offense stall as well. Northwestern took over at its 21 and drove using 17 plays, helped by a Black River pass interference call on fourth-and-goal from the 15. Wilhelmy hit Tanner Carlson from 9 yards for the score, but after a delay of game, Northwestern missed the extra point with 3:34 left.
Black River got one first down and was forced to punt. Northwestern took over on its 15 with 48 seconds left, and senior Garrett Hord intercepted a Hail Mary as the Pirates celebrated their second win over Northwestern in the last 14 meetings.
“I was 0-3 in my high school career against Northwestern, and they’ve always been tough games for both teams, so this is great to win,” Sexton said.
Contact Chris Freeman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Black River 21, Northwestern 13
NORTHWESTERN 0 7 0 6 — 13
BLACK RIVER 8 13 0 0 — 21
B — Travis Sexton 4 run (Riley Gibbs run), 2:18.
B — Sexton 95 run (Spencer Constable kick), 7:31.
N — Wes Schaad 74 pass from Mason Wilhelmy (Parker Smith kick), 5:08.
B — Gibbs 11 pass from Riley Bartolic (kick failed), 0:52.
N — Tanner Carlson 9 pass from Wilhelmy (kick failed), 3:34.