MARQUETTE, Mich. – The Northern Michigan football team scored two touchdowns in the first quarter and a touchdown in each quarter after and added a field goal to pick up a 38-17 win over the Northwood Timberwolves. The win moves NMU to 3-0 for the first time since 1997. The Wildcats are also 2-0 in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.
“The expectations are high and there are a lot of lofty goals,” NMU head coach Bernie Anderson said. “3-0 is the best start we can have so we’ll take that and get ready for the next game.”
Christian Jessie had a 91-yard touchdown on NMU’s first play in its second procession to give the ‘Cats a seven point lead. NMU would never relinquish the lead.
“We caught them (Northwood) in man coverage and there was no safety,” Anderson said. “We had a game plan that we prepared for and they showed it to us early. We audibled to Jessie and he is fast enough to outrun the defense.”
The ‘Cats got on the board 42 seconds into the game after only three plays from scrimmage. Carter Kopach threw a 39-yard reception to Christian Marble-King on the first procession. John Privitelli capped off the drive two plays later with a 19-yard touchdown run.
Northwood answered quickly with a four-play 65-yard drive capped off by a Cameron Jackson 22-yard touchdown run.
Rockne Belmonte capped off a 16-play 64-yard drive with a 33-yard field goal. The ‘Cats ate up 8:31 on the drive.
Kyle Senn picked up a 43-yard touchdown reception after a Northwood three and out to take a 24-7 lead late in the second quarter.
The ‘Cats held the 24-7 lead at halftime. Kopach finished the half with 209 passing yards. NMU has led at half in all three of its games.
Both teams exchanged touchdowns in the third quarter. The Timberwolves scored on a one-yard run by Cameron Jackson early in the second half. Julian Gaines caught a 23-yard Kopach pass for a touchdown after a nine-play 69-yard drive.
Northwood added a field goal in the fourth quarter and NMU capped off the scoring on a one-yard touchdown run by Prince Young. The play was set-up by a 31-yard reception by Jared Buss to the one yard line.
“We did a great job of taking an offense that requires a lot of discipline and holding Northwood in check,” Anderson said.
NMU had been giving up over 390 yards of offense in its first two games but held the Timberwolves to 306 yards. GLIAC “Defensive Player of the Week” Zach Anderson led the team with nine tackles (six solo and three assisted). Morgan Stenz had seven tackles and three tackles for loss. Wyatt Jurasin, Demitri Stewart and Josh Droese had six tackles each. Droese also had a fumble recovery.
The NMU offense racked up 566 yards. The ‘Cats had 25 first downs and were 8-for-12 on third down conversions and were 2-for-3 in the red-zone.
“We went vertical and hit some big plays,” Anderson added. “The running game was good today and we moved the ball. I felt like the times we didn’t put points up was because of us stopping ourselves and not them stopping us. We executed well, made big plays, ate up the clock and established a running game and those are all good signs that we’re going in the right direction.”
Kopach finished the game 15-of-23 through the air for 346 yards, three touchdowns and an interception. Kopach also rushed for 56 yards. Prince Young led the ground attack with 125 yards and a touchdown. John Privitelli had 43 yards on the ground. Christian Jessie finished the game with 127 reception yards on three catches and had a touchdown. Kyle Senn (56), Julian Gaines (51) and Christian Marble-King (46) all had over 40 yards of receiving.
Rockne Belmonte was 1-for-2 on field goals, making a 33-yarder. He also made five extra points.
Cameron Jackon led the Timberwolves with 103 yards on the ground. Quarterback Aaron Shaver was 5-for-10 for 143 yards in the air. He also had 28 rushing yards. Spencer Remtema had a game-high 14 tackles (10 solo and four assisted), including a tackle for loss.
The undefeated Wildcats hit the road next weekend to Ashland, Ohio to take on the Ashland Eagles. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. on Saturday (Sept. 24).
Game Notes: NMU last started a season 3-0 in 1997…The ‘Cats started that season 4-0 before losing and finished 7-4…NMU last started 2-0 in the GLIAC 2010…Attendance in the Superior Dome was 2,623...NMU returns to the Superior Dome on Oct. 1 when Wayne State comes to town for Homecoming.
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