UTICA, N.Y. — No. 18-ranked Division III Ohio Northern opened its 2016 season with a 34-30 loss at Utica (N.Y.) on Saturday afternoon at Gaetano Stadium.
The Polar Bears (0-1 overall) were in control for most of the afternoon and led 30-13 with seven minutes left in the game.
But the Pioneers (2-0) scored 21 points in the final 6:35, including an 8-yard TD pass with 15 seconds to play, to post the improbable win.
Northern had one final chance as Will Freed completed a 35-yard pass to Chad Rex to put the ball at the 25-yard line with three seconds left.
Freed then threw into the end zone on the final play of the game and it appeared that Malachi Nolletti had the ball bounce off his hands and into Rex’s hands while both players were on the ground for the score, but the officials ruled the ball had hit the ground and was incomplete to end the game.
Christiaan Williams carried the ball 24 times for 175 yards and a score and Freed completed 21-of-41 passes for 281 yards and a score to lead the ONU offense.
The Polar Bears will return to action 7 p.m. Saturday at Heidelberg.