Updated: September 8, 2012 11:27PM
Despite at times being pushed all over its home field, Mooseheart found the things it needed most at the times it needed them most on Saturday — and that combination led to a 35-14 Northeastern Athletic victory over Rockford Christian Life.
Leading just 21-14 and being outgained nearly 3-1, the Ramblers needed some key defensive stops — and they got them. Then they needed some explosive offense — and Oumaru Abdulahi provided them on fourth quarter runs of 30 and 58 yards.
What the opportunistic Ramblers’ victory means is that Mooseheart finishes the first third of the season 3-0 entering a short week before Friday’s visit of Christian Liberty.
“We’re definitely pleased to be 3-0,” Mooseheart coach Gary Urwiler said. “That’s your goal. We haven’t lost a game and there’s really nothing you can complain about.”
That said, Urwiler is aware there are strong teams waiting in the next six weeks of the regular season. Christian Life gained 396 yards against the Ramblers and Eagles running back Rodney Quansah gained 175 of those on 28 rushes.
“There are definitely some things we need to fix on the defensive side, as well as on offense,” Urwiler said. “Obviously (Christian Life’s) goal was to keep us off the field on the offensive side, and they did a good job of that.”
Abdulahi scored four of Mooseheart’s five touchdowns and gained 192 yards on 17 carries, starting with a 9-yard run midway through the first quarter.
“I really don’t know what else to say about (Abdulahi),” Urwiler said. “He’s just running the ball really hard. He’s got around 600 yards of rushing in three games. He’s not only fast, but he’s someone to be reckoned with. He’s hitting people. He’s not going down easy. And his senior leadership has been great.”
Abdulahi said he knew the team needed a lift.
“The team needed someone to get the motivation back up,” Abdulahi said. “Whether it was a 2-yard run or a 1-yard run — as long as we can do what we have to do, do our jobs, then others will notice and do their jobs and the whole team will come together. I’m not looking for any big-time runs. I’m just looking for that big ‘W’ on the board.”
Abdulahi extended the Ramblers’ lead midway through the second quarter with an electrifying 89-yard punt return, leaving Mooseheart ahead 14-6 at halftime.
After recovering a fumble deep in Christian Life territory, Mooseheart moved its lead to 21-6 when Sahr Mahoney caught a 15-yard TD pass from Jon Hart.
At this point, Christian Life rallied through a 4-yard Quansah run. And when the Ramblers fumbled in their own end zone, resulting in a safety, the lead was suddenly 21-14 and nearly 18 minutes of game clock remained.
But first Mooseheart’s defense stopped the Eagles when it needed to. Then Abdulahi broke away for his two touchdown runs to seal the victory.
“To be honest with you, our defense did have a couple of big stops there toward the end,” Urwiler said. “Then we were one, two, three, punt and our defense was right back out there on the field. But eventually, we found a way to make some adjustments.”
Although each team had four turnovers, the Ramblers were able to first convert turnovers into points and then to use their takeaways to stop lengthy Christian Life drives.
“They came at key times,” Urwiler said.
Mooseheart lost a key player when Anthony Amos left the game in an ambulance after a violent collision in the second quarter. Urwiler reported after the game that X-rays were negative and that the injury was a neck sprain and Amos was returning to the Mooseheart campus on Saturday night.