MARQUETTE, Mich. – The Northern Michigan football team finished its 107th season of competition on Nov. 12. The Wildcats finished 4-7 overall and 3-7 in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference in the 2011 season.
The season began in exciting fashion as the ‘Cats won their first three games and climbed into the national rankings to No. 23. NMU then lost five straight before rounding out the season with a win and two losses.
Non-conference opponent Minnesota State-Mankato visited the Superior Dome for the season-opener on Thursday, Sept. 1. NMU walked away with a 31-24 victory on a hot day in the Dome. Senior quarterback Carter Kopach threw a 19-yard touchdown reception to redshirt freshman Julian Gaines on a fourth and one late in the game and senior defensive back Jacob Lehmann made a game-ending interception in his own endzone to seal the victory. Senior Jon Privitelli had an exciting 67-yard punt return in the first quarter.
Northern hit the road the following week and defeated Findlay (Sept. 10) in double overtime, 30-23. Sophomore receiver Christian Jessie had a nine-yard touchdown reception in the second overtime and the defense made a stop on a fourth and goal to seal the win. Both teams exchanged field goals in the first overtime. Findlay made a field goal late in the fourth quarter to send the game to overtime.
On Sept. 17, Northwood came to Marquette. The ‘Cats scored a touchdown in each quarter, going on to win, 38-17. Privitelli had a 19-yard touchdown run, while Jessie had a 91-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter. A 33-yard field goal by junior kicker Rockne Belmonte and a 43-yard touchdown reception by senior receiver Kyle Senn came in the second quarter. Scoring for the second half consisted of a 23-yard touchdown reception by Gaines and a one-yard run by junior running back Prince Young.
NMU (No. 23) was ranked for the first time all season going into week four as they played on the road at Ashland. The Eagles handed the ‘Cats their first loss of the season, 16-45. NMU opened the game scoring the first 13 points in the first quarter. Ashland scored 17 unanswered points in the second quarter to take the lead at halftime. Ashland held NMU to only three points for the remainder of the game.
Northern lost its next four games against No. 9 Wayne State (28-20), Grand Valley State (7-42), Ferris State (6-35) and Indianapolis (31-38).
The Warriors came to Marquette and‘Cats spotted Wayne State 24 points before mounting a comeback that fell short. NMU outscored its opponent 14-3 in the second half and recovered an onside kick with under a minute to go but was unable to get a first down.
Grand Valley (Oct. 8) dominated its game in Marquette, scoring a touchdown in every quarter. Ferris State also scored a touchdown in each quarter in its win on Oct. 15. NMU held a 13-0 lead in Indianapolis (Oct. 22) and outscored the Greyhounds in the second half but a 21-point second quarter by Indy won the game.
On Oct. 29 the ‘Cats defeated Tiffin at home in their last win of the season. In the game, NMU had a season-high five interceptions and eight different players scored touchdowns. Junior Brent Parrett scored his first touchdown of the season, while redshirt freshman Gerrit Mortensen threw a touchdown and sophomore Nick Awrey and junior Cody Scepaniak scored their first career touchdowns. The ‘Cats won 59-3.
NMU closed out the season with two losses at Saginaw Valley State (26-48) and against Michigan Tech (18-21) in the Miner’s Cup. Belmonte made four field goals against the Cardinals and missed a game-tying 52-yard field goal against the Huskies.
Five ‘Cats were named All-GLIAC Second Team after the season. Junior left tackle Jace Daniels was selected second team on offense, while senior nose guard Matt Forward and junior defensive tackle Zach Anderson were selected on the defensive end of the ball. Five other Wildcats were named honorable mention: Seniors, running back Jared Buss, quarterback Kopach and defensive back Lehmann were honorable mention selections, along with sophomore wide receiver Christian Marble-King and junior running back Young.
23 Wildcats finished their careers in the green and gold uniform in 2011. NMU’s seniors are Brett Angel, Buss, Cedric Douglas, Anthony Echols, Robert Edmonds, Forward, Kopach, Jonathan Kraai, Lehmann, Nathan Linsmeier, Anthony Marietti, Eric McKnight, Junior Michel, Garrett Peck, Zach Pierson, Tony Propson, Senn, Demetri Stewart, Joby Sullivan, Craig Thompson, Marcus Tribble, Brennan VanEffen and Spencer Williams.
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