MARQUETTE, Mich. – The Northern Michigan University football team concluded the 2010 season with a record of 5-6. NMU’s record in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) was 5-5.
NMU started the season off with a non-conference loss against Minnesota State-Mankato (6-7). The ‘Cats went on to win the next three games against Findlay (49-10), Northwood (31-17) and a memorable homecoming game with Ashland (23-19), which saw the return of the 1975 National Championship team. The next two weeks the ‘Cats lost to Wayne State (18-26) and then No. 1 Grand Valley State (7-28). NMU lost junior quarterback Carter Kopach for the season in the game against Grand Valley which then shifted things for the offense. The last five weeks the ‘Cats struggled and only came out victorious in two of those games. NMU defeated Ferris State (22-20) and lost to Indianapolis in a nail bitter (5-6). NMU rebounded the following week by defeating Tiffin (43-14). The team struggled in the final two games losing to both Saginaw Valley (17-24) and rival Michigan Tech (0-12) in an ice bowl match up in Houghton.
Offensively it was NMU’s first year in the spread offense. The ‘Cats averaged 278.5 yards a game in total offense (140.1 rushing and 138.5 passing). Kopach who led in total offense (1,079 passing and 274 rushing) showed that he is the right person (back-to-back GLIAC Offensive Player of The Week in games against Northwood and Ashland) to guide the NMU offense, that will return a good core of its weapons next fall. John Privitelli led the ‘Cats on the ground with 693 yards on 170 carries as he scored a team-high five rushing touchdowns. Fullback Jared Buss carried the ball four times and gaining 26 yards with two touchdowns.
True freshman Jacob Hicks stepped in for the injured Kopach. Hics was 45-92-4 for 420 yards and one touchdown.
Dustin Brancheau led the ‘Cats receiving corps with 38 receptions for 507 yards. He hauled in a team-high five touchdown catches. Newcomer Christian Marble-King saw action in and out of the backfield with the new spread offense. He finished with 27 catches for 299 yards and one score. Blake Crider and Craig Thompson made the switch from tight end to the wide receiver position and combined for three touchdowns on the season. Tony Awrey was the ‘Cats final top target and hauled in 12 catches for 165 yards and a score.
Defensively the ‘Cats gave up on average 253.6 yards a game. The ‘Cats averaged 16.6 points a game in scoring defense. NMU was ranked first in the GLIAC in total defense and 8th in the country. Junior Eddie Knoblock led the ‘Cats in total tackles with 83 total tackles (44 solo and 39 assisted). He also recorded a team-high five interceptions and returning two of those for scores. Zach Anderson was next on the list with 60 total tackles (26 solo and 34 assisted) and had 5.5 sacks with two forced fumbles. Anderson also finished with 12 tackles for loss which was good for 9th in the GLIAC. DJ Catalano finished with a career high 57 total tackles (26 solo and 31 assisted). Josh Droese was right behind Catalano with 56 tackles (32 solo and 24 assisted).
As a group the ‘Cats intercepted 14 passes and returned three for touchdowns. Along with Knoblock’s two Marcus Tribble recorded the other score.
Garrett Peck handled the punting duties once again this year averaging 39.8 yards on 55 punts. 12 of those found their way inside the 20 yard line. Anthony Leandri and Rock Belmonte shared kick-offs this season. Leandri averaged 57.4 yards while Belmonte averaged 56.2 yards. Each kicker recorded one touchback. Belmonte connected on 11-18 field goals with his longest being a 51 yarder.
NMU placed 10 members on the GLIAC All-Conference teams. Knoblock and DJ Oke each earned first team all honors. Anderson, Blessing and Ricky Neaves all were named to the second team. Brancheau, Privitelli, Catalano, Eric Wells and offensive linemen Jason Dumont each earned honorable mention.
The ‘Cats open up at home on Thursday September 1, 2011 against Minnesota State-Mankato.
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