NU gets back on winning track by beating Harding

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NU’s Jaxon Harrah gets tackled by a Marion Harding defender after returning an interception on Friday. The Wildcats rolled to a 34-7 victory during the MOAC game.
(Photo submitted)
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The Wildcats of North Union have taken their licks this year, but have always been able to get back up the horse and keep their season on track.
This week was huge for the Wildcats, according to head coach Nick Hajjar. Not only did North Union roll to a 34-7 win over Marion Harding – something they have not been able to do since the Presidents entered the league in 2015 – but they also won after an upsetting loss to Pleasant last week.
“They (Harding) are newer to the league and we have not been able to beat them,” said Hajjar. “So for our kids to be able to overcome a hurdle and beat someone they have never beaten before was important too.”
The Wildcats came out of the opening kickoff hungry to score as they marched down the field 72 yards on six runs by the tag-team of Trevor Moran and Carson Smith and one pass by Anthony Padovano.
The opening touchdown was a run up the middle by Moran from four yards out. Padovano put the ball through the uprights to make it a 7-0 game three minutes into the opening quarter.
The Wildcats got their offense back on the field quickly after Harding had to punt the ball.
The Cats, who were pinned inside their own 20-yard line, were able to get inside the Prexies’ red zone on a single play.
Smith ran 61 yards down the sideline to end up at the Harding 20.
North Union made brief work of the short field by putting the ball in the end zone for the second time on Smith’s three-yard run around the edge.
Padovano remained perfect on the point after attempt to give NU a 14-0 lead a little more than halfway through the first quarter.
The Wildcat defense kept their time on the field to a minimum as they forced Harding to punt after six plays.
North Union took over on its own 25-yard line and decided to work the pass into the offensive rotation.
Padovano used receivers Moran, Smith and Trevyn Feasel to work the ball 75 yards down the field to their third touchdown.
The series ended on Moran’s 17-yard TD run.
The Cats couldn’t convert a two-point attempt to go up 20-0.
North Union held that score through the quarter and into halftime.
Hajjar said it was his offense’s ability to score during their time with the ball that really helped seal the win in the first half.
“I thought we came out and played well early,” he said. “I think we scored on three of our first four drives, even though we got off schedule with penalties in the first half.”
It was business as usual in the second half as the Presidents couldn’t move the ball.
After a punt, the Wildcats (5-2) worked their offensive magic down the field.
Moran scored on a one-yard run and Padovano sailed the ball through the uprights for a commanding 27-0 lead.
Hajjar believed the TD to start the third quarter really sealed the victory.
“Getting a stop to start the second half and then getting a score on our first possession is what helped seal it,” he said.
Those words couldn’t be truer as the Cats forced yet another Harding punt and tallied another touchdown at the start of the fourth quarter.
Feasel made his first trip to the end zone on a three-yard run up the middle. Padovano remained perfect on his fourth PAT to give the Wildcats a 34-0 lead just 30 seconds into the final stanza.
Hajjar believes the Wildcats’ ability to score with ease comes from understanding their strengths as a team.
“I think we know what we can and can’t do and hopefully we have some answers at times to make adjustments to what people are making against us,” he said. “We’ve still got to clean it up, though.
“As a coach, you always want to try and get better each week and keep moving forward.”
The one bright spot for the Prexies came late in the fourth quarter when DeAndre Ayers slipped through the Wildcats on his way to a 37-yard touchdown.
Oakland Parsons added the extra point to make it a 34-7 ball game with 2:30 left.
Hajjar said that Harding is a dangerously deceptive team, despite NU’s easy victory.
“These guys are dangerous,” he said. “Their record is deceiving. They are a 1-5 team that has played some bigger schools.
“They’ve got a lot of bodies and guys who can make some plays,” he said. “I thought we did a good job tonight.”
NU will travel to Galion on Friday.



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