ALLENDALE, Mich. – The Northern Michigan University football team fell behind the Grand Valley State Lakers Saturday night by a score of 22-6, but tried a comeback in the second half by scoring 13 points in the fourth quarter. In the end the Lakers took care of the Wildcats 31-19.
NMU falls to 5-4 overall and in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC). Grand Valley State improves to 9-1 and 8-1 respectively.
The Lakers scored 17 unanswered points in the first 15 minutes of play. Blake Smolen opened up the scoring with a 17-yard pass from Brad Iciek at 11:14 and with the good extra point the Lakers were up 7-0. A little more than five minutes later the Lakers were in the end zone again on a P.T. Gates 24-yard run (5:53) and the extra point was good for a 14-0 score. Justin Trumble capped off the scoring with a 25-yard field goal with 30 seconds left in the quarter for the 17-0 lead.
The Lakers expanded the lead to 20-0 in the second quarter on another field goal by Trumble. This time it was a 29-yard kick at 4:44. NMU got on the board at 2:10 of the quarter on a Carter Kopach to Dustin Brancheau 17-yard reception as the extra point kick was blocked. The Lakers picked up the two points by returning the blocked extra point for a score as it was now 22-6.
After a scoreless third quarter, the ‘Cats found the end zone in the fourth quarter. Kopach called his own number on a one-yard sneak less than a minute into the quarter (14:08). The two-point pass attempt was no good as the ‘Cats now trail 22-12. Trumble then added a 19-yard field goal at 9:56 for a 25-12 Grand Valley State lead. Zach Nichols hooked up with Kopach for a 12-yard score at 7:54 and with the good extra point by Rockne Belmonte the ‘Cats were within six points (25-19). With a little more than two minutes left in the game the Lakers added a touchdown by Iciek on an eight-yard run (2:08), but the two-point attempt failed. That would be the final score of the game (31-19).
NMU for the game registered 197 yards of total offense (41 rushing and 156 passing). The Lakers had 507 yards of total offense (356 rushing and 151 passing). Brandon Smith led the ‘Cats on the ground with 28 yards on three carries. Kopach was 16-26-1 for all the passing yards. Nichols had a game-high eight catches for 55 yards.
Defensively the ‘Cats had four players with 10 or more total tackles. Nathan Yelk led the way with 11 total tackles (one solo and 10 assisted). Ricky Neaves (five solo and five assisted), Demetri Stewart (three solo and seven assisted) and Zach Gauthier (two solo and eight assisted) had 10 each.
The ‘Cats wrap up the 2009 season with a home game next week against Indianapolis (Nov. 7 at 1 p.m.).
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Sports Information Director