NMU Football Rally Comes Up Short At Davenport
Story, photo courtesy of Davenport University. Click the AUDIO buttons to hear RRN halftime interviews with Drake Davis and Will Borchert.
CALEDONIA, Mich. - The Davenport football team has still never lost on Homecoming improving to 5-0 all-time with an 18-13 win over Northern Michigan on Saturday.
The Panthers improved to 2-4 overall and 1-1 in the GLIAC and ended a three-game skid in the process. The stat of the game and the main reason behind the victory was time of possession. DU held the ball for 37:53 compared to 22:07 for the Wildcats.
It is the most time of possession in a game for the Panthers and the first time they had more than 35 minutes since the Northwood game on Nov. 9, 2019. That stat meant that the defense was getting more rest than normal and it showed on the field. Northern Michigan gained 402 yards in the first game this season between the two teams but were held to just 201 yards including 100 in the first half and 101 in the second half. The Wildcats ran for just 66 yards today after 226 in Marquette back on Sept. 18.
Blake Daniels got the start as a different look after Deondre Ford started in Marquette. Daniels commanded the offense which finished with 303 total yards broken down by 163 rushing and 140 passing. He finished with 13 completions for 140 yards and a touchdown and also rushed 10 times for 53 yards including a 25-yard scamper.
Jaier Harden led the team with 56 rushing yards on 14 carries. Bryan Plegue tied his own school record with three field goals which was originally set against Gannon on March 20, 2021. Plegue connected on a 40-yard field goal for the first points of the game at the 8:52 mark of the first quarter. He also made a 27-yard field goal with 10 seconds left until halftime and a 25-yarder with 7:41 left in the third quarter.
The Davenport offense got into the end zone at the 3:00 mark of the first quarter to take a 10-0 lead. NMU had just a 16-yard punt and DU started the drive at the NMU 31-yard line.
They marched eight plays and took 4:15 off the clock as Amonte Phillips had a 17-yard touchdown catch from Daniels. DJ Stewart cut the deficit to 10-7 on the first play of the second quarter for Northern Michigan on a six-yard run. Plegue's second field goal of the game gave DU a 13-7 lead at halftime.
The Davenport defense forced a turnover on NMU's first drive of the second half. Jake Witt caught a pass and fumbled on a hit by D.J. Turner. Aaron Hill recovered the ball at the NMU 33-yard line and Plegue then kicked his third field goal of the game for the 16-7 lead at the 7:41 mark of the third quarter.
Plegue missed from 36 yards to set a new record after a 60-yard drive on their next possession. The Panthers scored on a safety with 7:07 to play after Daniel Riser was standing with his heels of the back of the end zone line and backed up out of the end zone for the first points that DU has scored in the fourth quarter this season.
DU was hoping to wrap up the win by running the ball with under three minutes to play when Harden fumbled and the Wildcats recovered at the DU 33-yard line. Two plays later, Tyquan Cox carried for a seven-yard score with 2:01 remaining. Drake Davis tried to convert the two-point conversion but tripped and fell when it looked like he had room to get into the end zone.
That meant that Northern Michigan would need a touchdown down the stretch if they were going to win. The Wildcats kicked the ensuing onside kick out of bounds and Davenport started the drive after a 15-yard penalty at their own 42-yard line.
The Wildcats got a quick three-and-out and DU punted to the NMU 8-yard line with 1:03 to go. On fourth and six from their own 35-yard line, NMU got a rush by Davis and a lateral to Isaiah Popp but he was tackled in DU territory to end the game.
Kyle Wojahn had a good day with eight punts for a 40.5 yard average and pinned six inside the 20. Justin Castell led the defense with a season-high 12 tackles including three tackles for loss. Austin Alward, Kolade Amusan and Tariq Thurman each recorded a sack for DU.
Drake Davis was 16-27 for 135 yards as the NMU quarterback. He also contributed 25 yards on the ground with a long of 11 yards.
DJ Stewart was the top rusher for the Wildcats in the contest as he rushed for 31 yards and a touchdown.
Jake Witt had 44 yards receiving for NMU with Isaiah Popp next for the 'Cats with 35 yards. A total of nine Wildcats caught passes in the game.
Antonio Howard Jr. had the longest kickoff return of the game which went for 35 yards.
Howard also led the NMU defense with a season-high 12 total tackles. The sophomore also tallied one and a half tackles for loss for two yards while adding two quarterback hurries.
Will Borchert and Brady Hanson each had nine total tackles. Borchert also assisted on a tackle for loss and had a quarterback hurry while Hanson forced a fumble and was responsible for a pass breakup.
Hasan Jackson registered a solo sack for a five-yard loss and added a quarterback hurry.
Tavion McCarthy had a team-high four pass breakups in the game.
NMU hosts Michigan Tech University on Saturday in the battle for the Miner's Cup. The game is scheduled for 12 p.m. inside the Superior Dome.