Playing each other for the first time since Northwest escaped with a last-minute touchdown a season ago, Notre Dame made sure the outcome was different on Saturday night inside Spartan Stadium.
The Titans (3-1) forced four turnovers and implemented a balanced offensive attack to beat the visiting Mohawks (0-4), 42-13.
After both teams exchanged punts on their opening drives, Notre Dame’s Kevin Lewis jumped in front of a pass from Mohawk quarterback Dustin Seaman and returned it 13 yards to give the Titans the 7-0 lead.
“Anytime you come out and have a few turnovers and its kind of a shot especially when one is returned as a touchdown,” Northwest coach Brooks Fry said.
The trend continued on the following drive when Notre Dame’s Michael Mader stepped in front of a Seaman pass and returned it 51 yards to the Mohawk 1.
“We come out here and have to work our way into it (defensively) and I thought we did what we had to,” Titans coach Bob Ashley said.
Mader rewarded himself as the quarterback. On the first play from scrimmage, he took it for a 1-yard touchdown run and gave Notre Dame a 14-0 lead.
“We knew we had to come out and play fast against these guys defensively and having two scores on the board definitely helped us out,” Ashley said.
On the Titans’ fourth possession, Dakota Smith broke free for a 6-yard score, handing the Titans a commanding 21-0 lead.
“If you get down early against a team like them, it is pretty difficult,” Fry said.
Northwest finally fought through the Titan defense with a 46-yard pass play from Seaman to wide out Corey Burnworth. The toss set up Northwest’s first score of the game as Seaman found a seam in the line on a quarterback keeper and ran for a 33-yard touchdown, cutting the lead to 21-7.
“I think our kids played hard,” Fry said. “We just made mistakes and we have got to get better.”
Smith, who finished the game with a game-high 159 yards on 19 carries and two touchdowns, capped off a nine-play drive with an 8-yard touchdown run to bump the lead to 28-7.
“He is a big part of what we do, he is fast on the edges,” Ashley said.
Mader lead the Titans down the field once more before the half. A nine-play drive was highlighted by a 27-yard pass from Mader to Lewis.
The play helped set up another 1-yard touchdown run from Mader to make it 35-7. He finished with two rushing touchdowns on three carries as well as completing six-of-11 passes for 106 yards.
“Got to give credit to out defensive coordinator he did a nice a nice job with our guys,” Ashley said.
The defensive assault continued in the second half, as Notre Dame recovered a fumble and a punt for the Mohawks first two possessions.
“As long as they keep playing hard, I can live with it,” Fry said.
After another touchdown run from Lewis made it 4-7, Northwest senior Wyatt Bazler, who finished with 53 yards on 13 carries, found an opening along the sideling for a 23-yard score in his only tally of the contest. The touchdown cut the lead to 42-13 with 2:01 remaining in the third quarter and closed the scoring.
“The thing we need to work on this week is to be more consistent at the point of attack,” Ashley said.
Both teams play their final game next week before starting their respective conference slate. The Mohawks return home Friday to host Green while the Titans play another Saturday contest as they travel to Cleveland Villa Angela-St. Joseph.
ND — Lewis 13 interception return (Lewis kick) 6:55
ND — Mader 1 run (Lewis kick) 5:57
ND — Smith 6 run (Lewis kick) 2:41
NW — Seaman 33 run (Amburgey kick) :37
ND — Smith 8 run (Lewis kick) 5:21
ND — Mader 1 run (Lewis kick) :28
ND — Lewis 11 run (Lewis kick) 4:35
NW — Bazler 23 run (pass failed) 2:01