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The North Wind

The North Wind

The North Wind

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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Photo courtesy of NMU Athletics
Women’s spring soccer comes to an end this weekend
Lily GouinApril 19, 2024

Dome record not enough for victory

The Wildcat football team’s attempt to start the season on a positive note was ruined by the Hillsdale Chargers in Saturday’s home opener when NMU lost, 42-41. A new style of Wildcat football may have been established, however, as sophomore running back Mark Bossuah rushed for 317 record-breaking yards.

The ‘Cats (0-2 overall, 0-2 GLIAC) dropped their second straight game, this time in an offensive shootout that boasted more than 1,100 yards of total offense.

“We’re still early in the second year. We’re still early in this season,” NMU head coach Bernie Anderson said. “We’ve played two games now down to two-point and one-point losses.”

This is Anderson’s second year at the helm of the NMU squad and, up until Saturday, the ‘Cats had trouble establishing a running attack and averaged a mere 94.8 yards per game in 2006.

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On Saturday, Bossuah eclipsed that mark by over 200 yards and broke a 16-year NMU and Superior Dome record for rushing yards. The Dome record was previously held by NMU running back Nelson Edmonds when he rushed for 260 yards in 1991. Edmonds also held the previous Wildcat single game mark of 291 yards in a game.

“The running game was something we really needed to establish tonight and continue to throughout the season for us to become a better team,” Bossuah said. “I think we proved what potential we have as an offense today.”

Finding the end zone first on Saturday was Hillsdale running back Vinnie Panizzi, who scored with 9:14 left in the first quarter.

Northern wasted no time on their next drive and less than two minutes later Buddy Rivera found sophomore wideout Zach Nichols, who made a diving catch in the end zone. The 42-yard pass tied the game at seven a piece.

The see-saw battle continued throughout the night and Hillsdale (2-0, 2-0) and Northern both scored on their next possessions. Hillsdale took the lead with 4:06 remaining in the first when wide receiver Aaron Waldie caught an 11-yard pass from quarterback Mark Nicolet.

Northern then tied the contest on a 36-yard touchdown strike from Rivera to junior wideout Fred Wells.

As Bossuah and the NMU ground game began to settle into a rhythm, Rivera continued to pick apart the Charger defense. Just over five minutes into the second frame, the quarterback dropped back on a play action pass and found junior wide receiver Dan Elmore for a 31-yard touchdown.

“I think our ability to run the ball really opened up the passing game as the game went on,” Bossuah said. “But at the same time the defense’s respect for our receiving group led to big gains for me.”

The touchdown was Rivera’s third of the day and third from a distance of 30 yards or more. At that point, the ‘Cats took a 21-14 lead.

The lead would be short lived as Panizzi struck again-this time on a three-yard run-to tie the game with 4:08 left in the half.

With one second left before halftime, NMU kicker Anthony Leandri connected on a 25-yard field goal, the first of his collegiate career, to place the Wildcats up 24-21.

Early in the second half, Panizzi scored his third rushing touchdown of the evening from two yards out with 14:23 left in the third quarter.

Much like the rest of the game, the Wildcats responded with a touchdown of their own when Nichols caught his second score of the night and fourth of the season.

After both offenses struggled to find a rhythm throughout the third, Hillsdale took the lead back when Matt Pitillo hauled in a 20-yard pass from Nicolet.

The Chargers took a 35-31 lead and the Dome crowd of more than 4,000 remained on their feet.

“The atmosphere was really great tonight,” said junior linebacker Alex Grignon. “We had a good turnout from our fans and they seemed to really get into the game, it’s just too bad it slipped away.”

Grignon finished the game with three solo tackles and one tackle for loss.

The Wildcats took a 38-35 lead when Bossuah broke out for a 35-yard touchdown run with 10:35 left in regulation.

With 8:55 left, Hillsdale took the lead for good on a 64-yard touchdown pass to Waldie, his second of the day.

Leandri later pulled the ‘Cats to within one on a 22-yard field goal for but it proved to be too little, too late with the final score ending up 42-41.

“Anytime you lose it hurts, I think our program made a big step today. We have become a better football team, we know what it’s like to play four quarters, we’ve matured, we lost a tough one but we’re a better team today,” Anderson said.

The Wildcat offense continued to show promise, with the emergence of Bossuah and the running game. Rivera also completed 17 of 27 passes for 235 yards and threw four touchdowns, while Nichols brought in six catches for 78 yards and added two scores.

Bossuah, who now leads the GLIAC in rushing with 351 total yards, said he thought the offensive line showed improvement as the game went on and that the play of his blockers led to many big gains.

The team will be looking to improve on defense after giving up a total of 66 points in the first two games. The Wildcat defense also allowed a total of 502 yards in Saturday’s contest alone.

“Defensively, we need to get better,” said Grignon. “We need to work on the little things to improve as a unit. As a team, too many tackles were missed that need to be made and I think we need to make bigger plays happen out there.”

The ‘Cats will be off next week before hosting Saginaw Valley State (1-1, 1-1) on Sept. 22 at 7 p.m. in the Superior Dome.

“We’re not playing for a conference championship at this point,” Anderson said. “We’re playing to get better each week. We got a lot better this week and we proved that we can play with any team.”

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