by Daniel Appel
The lights were bright, the bleachers were packed and the newly-renovated Reynolds Field was christened with its first football game, resulting in an Eagle victory on Sept. 6. UNW faced off against St. Olaf College, who plays in the MIAC conference.
After trailing since the second quarter, senior quarterback Jake Fletcher led his team on a 12 play, 89 yard drive, which finished with a five yard touchdown pass to running back Jacob Fettig.
From there, the defense held its own breaking up a pass as time expired, giving the Eagles a 17-16 win. With the experienced Fletcher at the helm, the Eagles offense put up over 400 yards against St. Olaf.
When asked about Fletcher’s performance, head coach Kirk Talley said, “I was proud of Jake. He definitely looked like he was enjoying himself from the perspective of making plays, as well as running the football. Jake is a great competitor, but more than that, he has a great heart.” The close win over St. Olaf is a stark contrast from the last time the teams met, a game last season in which St. Olaf won 37-18. The crowd attendance for this recent game was just under 3,000 fans.
On Sept. 13 the Eagles traveled to Eureka, Ill. to take on the Eureka College Red Devils. Taking a convincing 34-10 halftime lead over Eureka, Northwestern poured on another two touchdowns in the second half, winning the game in convincing fashion, 48-16. Fletcher continued his dominant senior season, throwing over 300 yards and three touchdowns. Running back Josh Sinnen added two scores of his own on the ground. UNW was defeated by Eureka in last year’s matchup, 26-9.
After winning their first two games, the outlook for the Eagles’ season is bright. With the return of Fletcher as quarterback and his dominating performances in the team’s first two outings, the Eagles are a real threat to take the UMAC conference title. Anchored by the dual threat at running back with Sinnen and Chris Simon-Wallace, the ground attack is a strong part of this Northwestern team. Wide receivers Joe Sutton and Luke Couwenhoven lead the team in catches and touchdowns so far, and look to continue stretching the field.
On defense, the team is poised to continue shutting down offenses. The defense brings back many starters, including current leading tackler Luke Sommerlot, linebacker Nathan Van Zee, who leads the team in sacks, and freshman linebacker Gideon Burnham who has been playing beyond his years- already in the top three in tackles for the Eagles.
“We’re certainly a better team this year, experience wise, a lot of the same guys are back.” Talley said, “One game at a time. There is expectation, there is potential. As I told the guys, potential and expectation are all about the future; we have to worry about today and this week.”
Sept. 20, the Eagles took down Martin Luther 41-27 in the Football Frnezy game. Nearly as notable as the win was Jake Knotek winning Football Frenzy’s free tuition for a year at the half-time event.