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Meadville’s Preston Heagy (right) is congratulated by teammate Mike Prystaloski and another player during the Bulldogs’ 27-14 win over Northwestern on Saturday at Bender Field.

Meadville took a 13-0 lead in the first quarter Saturday with two scores in a 16.2-second span on the way to a 27-14 non-region win over visiting Northwestern.

The Wildcats (0-5, 0-2 Region 3) received the opening kick and moved the ball 52 yards to the Meadville 4-yard line, using the option effectively.

“We played well enough to win, but down the road we are gonna see a couple more option teams. We need to continue to work to get up to speed with that option game by that time,” Meadville head coach Mike Pendolino said.

In the end, Northwestern placekicker Jake Rhinehardt missed a 20-yard field goal attempt.

The Bulldogs went three-and-out, and Northwestern turned the ball over on downs at the Meadville 34-yard line with under a minute to go in the opening period.

Junior running back Jon Roncolato then caught a pass from Jarrod Kilburn for 16 yards before breaking free for a 50-yard dash to put the ’Dogs up 6-0.

Chuck Szitas nailed the point-after with 37.7 seconds remaining.

Just over 16 seconds later, Northwestern fullback Marcus Paradise took a handoff at his own the 10-yard line, and Meadville defensive end Preston Heagy stripped it and ran it in for another score.

The kick was wide-right, but the ’Dogs had a nice, early 13-0 lead.

In the second, Meadville’s first possession began and ended with junior back Toney Phillips.

He returned the punt about seven yards to set up shop at the Meadville 28.

Five minutes into the drive, the Wildcats were flagged for being offside on a 3rd-and-1, giving Meadville a first down the easy way.

On a 1st-and-goal at the 7-yard line, Meadville was called for holding and pushed back to a 1st-and-goal at the 20.

Two plays later, it was 3rd-and-goal at the five, and Phillips took a pitch off-tackle for five yards and a 20-0 advantage.

Phillips finished the night with a team-leading 84 yards on 10 carries with two scores.

“I felt real confident carrying the ball,” he said. “I just lowered my shoulder and ran hard like we do in practice every day.”

“Toney had a nice game,” Pendolino said. “He worked hard in practice all week, and it definitely showed in the game.”

However, Northwestern quarterback Kyle Pierson took top honors in the contest with 127 yards in 21 tries.

On a keeper around the right end, he also put his team on the board with a 7-yard scoring run just before the half.

“Oh, he was good, no doubt about that,” Phillips said of Pierson. “At safety, I tried to do my alley fills. He had a couple good runs going outside, but I did the best that I could.”

In the second half, Pierson carried 10 times for 83 yards and completed three passes. The Wildcats outscored the Bulldogs 8-7 in the closing 24 minutes.

“When you’re up, you want to stay up,” Pendolino said. “You can’t become complacent. There’s no time for a break on the football field.

“When it counted, we stepped it up and made the plays.”

Meadville’s second-half score came on a 34-yard toss sweep around the left corner by Phillips with 8:09 remaining in the third quarter.

After covering 20 yards on their next drive, the Wildcats were forced to punt.

Roncolato let the ball slip through his hands, and Northwestern’s Charles Warren was there to pick it up.

Starting with a 1st-and-10 at the Meadville 25, the Wildcats worked themselves into a 3rd-and-goal at the 6.

With 6.6 seconds remaining in the quarter at the snap, Pierson dropped the ball, and Tyler Cronin scooped it up.

Cronin raced down the left sideline for a 94-yard score, but it was negated by an illegal block call on Phillips at the Northwestern 43-yard line.

“It was a stupid mistake,” Phillips said. “I should have let him go. I thought I could get in front of him.”

Meadville eventually turned it over on downs on the ensuing drive.

Northwestern’s possession covered 62 yards in 2:10, and Drew Keenan punched it in from four yards out.

Pierson ran in the 2-point conversion to set the final score at 27-14.

Roncolato finished with 74 yards on seven totes for Meadville, and Dan Stansfield recorded the game’s only sack for a 4-yard loss.



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