‘Cats rout Dragons in home opener


Revenge for last year’s overtime loss was paid by the Northern
Michigan football team as the Wildcats brought in their first win of the year beating GLIAC opponent Tiffin University 62-0 in the Superior Dome.

The Wildcats (1-1, 1-1 GLIAC) brought in their first shutout at home since the 2000 season’s 24-0 win over Michigan Tech. NMU’s 62 points were the most any Northern team has scored since laying 58 in 1998.

“We just needed this football team to win a game,” NMU head coach Bernie Anderson said. “This was very, very important to come out, play well, but most importantly play well and win.”

The Wildcat offense had little trouble moving the ball on the Tiffin defense, racking up 532 total yards. Of those, 395 came from rushing. Tiffin would record only two first downs throughout the game to NMU’s 30, and would only cross into NMU territory once.

“A lot of us forgot what it’s like to win,” sophomore running back Brandon Smith said. “We haven’t been winning lately. This is how we have to start right now. Get a big win like this and keep it going.”

The Dragons found themselves trailing 27-0 at the end of the first quarter, with the lead stretching to 48-0 at halftime, most in part due to NMU’s punishing running game.

“We wanted to come out and establish a run, there was no question about that,” Anderson said. “We felt we have three good backs with a good line in front of them. We wanted to kind of set the tempo that way and we were able to do it so we stayed with it.”

The three-headed rushing attack of NMU which features senior Mark Bossuah, Brandon Smith, and true freshman Antonio
Wallace has paved the way for Northern this season to 596 yards in its first two games, which ranks first in the GLIAC. NMU is currently averaging 298 rushing yards a game.

“We ran it better than I anticipated,”
said Anderson. “I think we got them early and got them down, broke their will to win and ours just grew. If we played them again I don’t think it would be that score.”

In the game, Bossuah racked up 86 yards on 14 carries to go along with two touchdowns. Smith brought in 91 yards on seven
carries and one score. Wallace rushed nine times for 73 yards and three scores, while adding one touchdown on an 82-yard punt return.

“Depth at running back is real important,” Bossuah said. The past couple of years I’ve had to play a lot, and whether it’s being tired or injured we haven’t always had that depth, but that’s something that we have this year.”

Many feel the win sets the tone for the Wildcats who will now have to head north to Sherman Field take on rival Michigan Tech (0-2, 0-2 GLIAC) in the annual Miners Cup game.

“We’ve got a big one next week against our rivals up the road,” Bossuah said. “Last week vs. Northwood was an embarrassment
to us. Northwood is a good team, but to lose to them and know we could have done something like this is embarrassing. We definitely want to get that bad taste out of our mouth.”

Last season Tech walked away with the victory in the Superior Dome after a nationally televised game. NMU leads the series between the two 40-37-3, but is 1-2 in its last three meetings since Anderson came to NMU in 2006 after spending 19 years as a coach at Tech. This season, though, NMU heads north with the confidence of a big win.

“Unlike last year we went into Tech after a loss and with our heads down. This year we’re confident and we’re not going to get caught on our heels.” Bossuah said. “We’re going to be ready.”

Northern’s offense heads into Saturday’s matchup ranked third in the GLIAC, averaging 453 yards per game. The Wildcat defense takes the top spot in the conference in total defense having only allowed an average of 196 yards per game.

Players and coaches alike know how quickly things can change, especially early in a season and how important it is to stay motivated and focused when heading into a big rival such as Tech.

“We need to drop this in a hurry,” Anderson said referring to the Tiffin game, “because we’re not 62 points better than anyone in this league on a normal day.”

“It motivates us,” Wallace said, “we’re not thinking about this one, get ready for next week already.”

The rushing attack of NMU will look to ounce again pile up yards on the Huskies. Doing so will be one of the tougher tasks they’ve faced thus far.

“We understand how good Michigan Tech is, they’ve proven that year after year.” Anderson said. “They thumped us good at home last year and a couple years ago up there, so it’s going to be a great rivalry and I expect to play well.”

The ‘Cats will return home on Sept. 26 for their homecoming
game against Ferris State (1-2 overall, 0-2 GLIAC). Kickoff will be at 4 p.m.