HAPPY HOMECOMING! Wildcats Rally For Victory
Click the AUDIO buttons to hear player spotlight interviews with NMU's Jay Young and John McMullen.
MARQUETTE---It was a Happy Homecoming in Marquette on Saturday as the Northern Michigan University football team came back from a 19-0 deficit to stun the Wayne State University Warriors, 26-19, at the Superior Dome.
Northern got the ball with 1:19 left in the game at midfield, and it didn’t take long for the ‘Cats to take the lead. DJ Stewart broke away for a 50-yard touchdown run down the sideline, in front of his own bench, and Daniel Riser’s extra point kick made it 26-19.
The Warriors had one more chance, with 1:04 left, to move 63 yards to the Wildcat end zone.
They moved it into the red zone and called a time out with two seconds left. A pass that could have tied the game, from Chase Churchill to Myren Harris, was broken up by Hasan Jackson.
And the Wildcats celebrated their most dramatic win in years, and improved to 3-2 on the season heading into the toughest part of their 2021 GLIAC schedule.
For most of the day, this result looked like a complete impossibility. Wayne State dominated the game, especially on defense. The Wildcats didn’t score a point until late in the third quarter.
Wayne State got two touchdown runs from Harris in the first quarter to go up 13-0 at halftime, and Churchill threw a six-yard touchdown pass to Nick Poterack in the third quarter to make it 19-0.
The Warriors missed the two-point conversion. Who knew that they would not score again.
A nine-play drive that took 4:14 of game time led NMU to its first points.
The drive started with a Drake Davis rush for seven yards to put the team at its own 42.
Three complete passes moved the Wildcats to the opposition's 16-yard line.
After a rush was negated by a penalty call, an incomplete pass turned positive as WSU was called for pass interference which moved NMU 13-yards out from the end zone.
Zach Keen came in at quarterback and rushed for 12 yards to the Warriors' one-yard line.
The following play Drake Davis returned at QB and ran the ball in for a touchdown.
A successful two-point conversion pass from Drake Davis to Wyatt Davis made the game 19-8.
The next Wildcat score was a Daniel Riser 24-yard field goal to make it 19-11.
Then a huge play on the ensuing kickoff. The Wayne State returner muffed the reception.
Tyquan Cox recovered the ball for NMU at the WSU 12-yard line. It only took the Wildcats four plays to find the end zone again. Facing fourth down and four, Davis completed a touchdown pass to Isaiah Popp that brought NMU to within 19-17. Then a two-point pass to Yale Van Dyne tied the game with 1:59 left.
Three incomplete passes by the Warriors gave NMU the ball back, and after a short 35-yard punt, the Wildcats took the lead on Stewart’s long run with 1:10 left.
Then the defense hung on as Wayne State marched down the field but ran out of time.
Davis threw for 165 yards and one touchdown on a 21-36 day through the air. He also added 30 yards on the ground and a rushing touchdown.
Stewart led the NMU rushing attack with 90 yards. His 50-yard touchdown run was the longest of the game for either team.
Isaiah Popp caught the touchdown pass for the 'Cats and had 22 receiving yards. Yale Van Dyne led the team in receiving yards with 50 on five targets. He had an average of 10 yards per reception.
Will Borchert led all defensive players with nine total tackles while Antonio Howard Jr. had a game-high six solo tackles. Howard also had a team-high two pass breakups.
Three Wildcats were part of two sacks in the game. Hasan Jackson registered a solo sack for a three-yard loss while John McMullen and Edward Pierson combined for a one-yard loss on another quarterback takedown.
McMullen was also responsible for two quarterback hurries on the day.
Brady Hanson, Jackson, Tavion McCarthy, and Shodipo also tallied pass breakups.
The win also marks 2021 as the first season NMU has had three wins in its first five games since the 2015 season.
NMU is traveling to Davenport University on Saturday for a rematch of the earlier 20-14 Wildcat win. The game will kick off at 12 p.m.