Wildcats dominate Homecoming game


Another game at the Superior Dome, another shut-out by the Northern Michigan football team. NMU improved to 3-1 on the year, breezing past Ferris State 34-0 on homecoming weekend.

Head coach Bernie Anderson said that homecoming is a special time, because football alumni often visit the school and watch the game.

“You need to make them proud of your university, you need to make them proud of the green and gold and I’m sure they’re leaving here with a smile on their face,” he said.

The Wildcats have now won their last three games after losing at Northwood to start the year. NMU has outscored opponents 144 to 16 since the opening game loss. The win sends Ferris State to a 1-4 start, 0-4 in the GLIAC. It also marks the first time the NMU seniors have beaten Ferris State.

Players and coaches alike know the celebration of a big homecoming game can’t last for very long if they hope to succeed.
“We take it one game at a time,” said captain and senior offensive linemen Jack Rustman. “After our win we have about a day and a half to celebrate, and then we say we’re zero and zero for this week. We take it game by game and earn our respect that way.”

The NMU offense finished with 389 total yards, 353 rushing, with just 36 yards passing. The one-two rushing punch of senior Mark Bossuah and freshman Antonio Wallace carved the Ferris defense for 159 and 130 yards, respectively.

Nathan Yelk led a stingy Wildcat defense that only allowed 13 yards rushing.
The Wildcats will move past the Bulldogs next week and take on Saginaw Valley State (4-1, 3-1 GLIAC).

Saginaw Valley stands as one of the Wildcats’ biggest tests so far this season. The Cardinals are ranked 16th overall in the Division II coaches’ poll. In conference play SVSU lies tied with the Wildcats for second place with a 3-1 mark.

“Saginaw Valley is one of the best [teams] in the league,” Anderson said. “They’ve already proven that this year. We’re still only 3-1.”

The Wildcats’ key to success against SVSU is their potent running attack, ranked first in the conference averaging 298.5 yards per game. Saginaw’s rush defense is no slouch giving up an average of only 117.8 yards a game. Confidence is key, but respect for the defense is just as important.

“With Saginaw Valley, they’re downhill right away with every team they’ve played,” Bossuah said. “So we can only imagine how fast they’re going to be trying to fly down to the run against a team [like us].”

Led by a group of seniors along the defensive line and two senior linebackers, including All-Conference and preseason All-American John Jacobs, the Cardinals have an aggressive front seven, who have contributed to 11 sacks on the season with 27 tackles for loss.

The play of the Cardinals senior linebackers Jacobs and Mike LeVand have forced teams to always keep an eye on where they stand on the field. Jacobs ranks first in the GLIAC in tackles with LeVand ranking fifth through five games. Rustman, however, doesn’t feel the two will garner extra attention come Saturday.

“I’ve faced these two linebackers my whole career here. They might have the talent, but it’s nothing we can’t handle,” he said. “It’s just staying true to our technique and being the best on that day.”

The SVSU defense is nothing this team hasn’t faced before. Rustman believes what it comes down to is playing the game of football, with the poise and composure they’ve been playing with all season long.

“We’ve got to stay disciplined, stay true to our techniques and play tough,” Rustman said. “You know it’s going to be a battle and you’ve just got to play football just the way we learned.”

The SVSU defense will surely pay extra attention to the running back play of Bossuah and Wallace, along with sophomore Brandon Smith who have combined for 905 yards and 14 rushing touchdowns on the season.

“Now it’s to the point in the locker room where we’re feeling like our defense can slow anyone down and our offense can score points on anybody,” Bossuah said. “But you don’t want to get over confident.”

NMU’s pursuit to make the playoffs for the first time since 1987 won’t be an easy task, but Anderson knows his players are building confidence.

“We don’t have enough wins right now to call it a winning season,” Anderson said. “We’re far from where we need to be, [but] there are signs that we’re starting to believe in ourselves and the more we believe in ourselves the better we get.”

The Wildcats will return home Saturday, Oct. 10 to take on Wayne State.