Wildcats Final Drive Pulls Out Win

Carter Kopach
Carter Kopach
UNIVERSITY CENTER, Mich. – The Northern Michigan University football team crossed the bridge for the first time since the opening week of the season. NMU took on the Saginaw Valley State Cardinals Saturday afternoon. The Cardinals are ranked 16th in the nation in the latest American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Top 25. Trailing in the fourth quarter the Wildcats scored a touchdown with less than 10 seconds left in the game for the 23-20 win.
With the win NMU improves to 4-1 overall and in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) on the season.   Saginaw Valley State falls to 4-2 and 3-2 respectively. 
 Saginaw Valley State opened up the scoring with a field goal about half way through the first quarter (7:04). Austin Borchard booted one from 23 yards out for the early 3-0 lead. NMU's Rockne Belmonte added his own 27-yard field goal at 13:35 of the second quarter to tie the score. The Cardinals went ahead 10-3 before halftime (00:36) when Andrew Beaver caught a 15-yard scoring strike from Charles Dowdell.
NMU struck twice in the third quarter to take the lead. Zach Nichols hauled in an 11-yard pass from Carter Kopach at 11:20 and with the good extra point the game was tied at 10-all. Kopach then threw a 24-yard pass to Brian Mitz at 8:16 for a 17-10 count with the good extra point. 
Borchard kicked a 20-yard field goal at 13:29 of the fourth quarter to cut into NMU's lead 17-13. Saginaw Valley State took the lead over when Galen Stone caught a four-yard pass from Dowdell as the extra point was good with 7:19 left in the game for a 20-17 score.  
NMU began its game-winning drive on its own 29-yard line with 7:14 left in the game. During the drive the 'Cats converted two fourth down to keep the drive going. It looked as if NMU had lost the game when Kopach's pass was intercepted by the Cardinals Ja'Vae Ingraham at the goal line, but the home team was called for pass interference. NMU was still breathing at the Saginaw Valley State's two-yard line. On the next play, Antonio Wallace took it in from the two for the score with four seconds showing on the clock. Belmonte's extra point kick was blocked, but the 'Cats had the lead (23-20). NMU's drive was 17 plays covered 71 yards and used 7:10 off the clock.
Saginaw Valley State downed the ensuing kickoff and had one last play. On the last play of the game, Nathan Yelk intercepted the ball on the NMU 25-yard line to end the game.
NMU tallied 255 yards of total offense (161 rushing and 94 passing). On the other side the Cardinals racked up 312 yards of total offense (107 rushing and 205 passing). The 'Cats had the ball for 35:33 of the game. NMU had the edge in first down at 19-15.
Mark Bossuah and Wallace were kept down below their averages Saturday. Bossuah had 73 yards on 17 carries while Wallace had 32 yards on 18 rushes. Kopach was 13-22-0 for 94 yards. His favorite target was Dustin Brancheau as he caught six passes for 24 yards. 
Yelk led the defense with 14 total tackles (seven solo and seven assisted), a sack, one-and-a-half tackles for loss and the interception. Demitri Stewart had nine total tackles, all assisted tackles and a half of a tackle for loss. Zach Gauthier had eight total tackles (one solo and seven assisted) and an interception.
NMU will return to the Superior Dome next Saturday (Oct. 10) with a game against the Warriors of Wayne State. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. All children in eighth grade and below will be admitted free to the game.