With only one winning season since 2011, Northwood’s first year head football coach Pete Mitchell said it is imperative that his young team takes baby steps before big steps.
In the season opener Saturday, Aug. 26, against Saddleback Valley Christian at Portola High the Timberwolves took a few steps forward, and were on the verge of victory, before two late Warrior touchdowns foiled their comeback as Northwood suffered a 24-14 loss.
For 46 minutes plus the Timberwolves defense, led by Jason Pontillas, Alex Aviles and Xavier Cousar, kept Northwood in the game by recording seven sacks, two turnovers and stopping SVC four times on fourth downs.
Suddenly, with 1:36 to play the improbable occurred as Northwood linebacker Connor Vejsicky intercepted a pass and returned it 16 yards for a go ahead touchdown, giving the Timberwolves a 14-10 lead and sending the home crowd into a frenzy.
However, a series of crucial Northwood mistakes would follow within the next 90 seconds allowing the Warriors to steal the victory.
On SVC’s ensuing first play following Vejsicky’s TD, QB Mason Allen scrambled for a short gain but the Timberwolves were flagged for personal foul at the end of the play, giving the Warriors the ball at the Timberwolves 38.
One play later, Mason tossed a 38-yard TD pass to Jack DeAvila as SVC regained a 17-14 lead with 1:05 left.
Misfortune struck again as the Warriors recovered a squib kick. SVC ran three plays and on fourth down, Allen surprised the Timberwolves defense as he threw a 43-yard touchdown pass to DeAvila, who outmuscled two Northwood defenders, with two seconds remaining to close out the wild finish.
“It’s heartbreaking,” said Aviles, who had an interception and recovered a fumble. “We just didn’t communicate and tackle well in the final minute.”
Northwood wide recevier Seth Locke caught a 2-yard TD pass from Michael Coleman in the final seconds of the first half to tie the game at, 7-7, at intermission.
“We played a lot…