NMU ‘Cats spoil SVSU homecoming game


Apparently, one homecoming victory just wasn’t enough for the NMU football team. They liked it so much that they went down to Saginaw Valley State University and won the homecoming game there, too.

After their victory over the then-No. 16 Cardinals, Northern is now 4-1 on the year (4-1 GLIAC). Saginaw dropped to 4-2 overall, 3-2 GLIAC. It marked the first time NMU beat SVSU since the 1999 season.

“Anytime you beat a nationally ranked team its great for your players, team and the school and football program in general,” head football coach Bernie Anderson said. “It justifies a lot of your hard work. It’s one of a number of turning points to get you where you want to be.”

Facing a 10-3 deficit at halftime, NMU put two quick scores on the Cardinals in the third on two touchdown passes from sophomore quarterback Carter Kopach, making the score 17-10. NMU would soon find themselves trailing once again in the game after a SVSU field goal and touchdown pass with 7:19 left, making it a 20-17 game.

It was in those seven minutes that the Wildcats would characterize their season, marching 71 yards to take the lead on a 2-yard rush by freshman running back Antonio Wallace, making it a 23-20 game with four seconds remaining on the clock. Senior linebacker Nathan Yelk sealed the game by intercepting the Cardinal’s desperation pass.

NMU knocked SVSU out of the American Football Coaches Association top 25 poll, but failed to move into the rankings themselves. However, they did receive 11 votes.

Anderson isn’t concerned about the lack of recognition just yet.

“At this point myself I don’t even want to be nationally ranked,” he said. “I want to be nationally ranked at the end of the year, not in the middle of the season.”

Senior running back Mark Bossuah was also pleased with the team’s performance.

“We overcame some adversity last week,” he said. “I think we responded well, and we hope we can continue it. The biggest thing about last week is that it gives us the confidence to know that we can play with the best teams in this league.”

Bossuah led the game with 73 yards rushing. Kopach ended the game 13 of 22 passing with 94 yards and two scores, and Wallace added 32 yards rushing along with the game winning score. Yelk led the Wildcat defense with 14 tackles, a sack and an interception, while junior linebacker Demitri Stewart brought in nine tackles. Yelk earned the title of GLIAC defensive player of the week for his performance.

At 4-1 on the season, it ties the most wins seniors at NMU have had in a season since joining the team in 2005. Players and coaches alike know four wins isn’t the end, and staying focused now becomes the biggest task.

“I think the players have done a great job themselves staying focused on one game at a time, which we emphasized early,” Anderson said. “We’re staying focused on that one team and one game, and so far it’s been good to us.”

“Every week, just stay focused on the team and the task at hand and don’t look back,” Yelk said. “I think that was the main thing we’re trying to focus on, not looking behind us, because if you do, you don’t see where you’re going.”

The Wildcats, now home for two weeks, take on the No. 19 Wayne State Warriors (5-1, 4-1 GLIAC) on Saturday, Oct. 10. The Warriors currently sit tied with NMU for second place overall in the GLIAC.

They also feature one of the most explosive players in the country in running back Joique Bell, who currently leads the nation in rushing with 1,162 yards and 17 total touchdowns through six games.

The focus of the defense will be to slow down the one man rushing attack of the Warriors, who are averaging 237.5 yards per game, 193.7 of those are coming from Bell alone.

The NMU defense ranks second in the conference in rushing yards allowed per game, giving up an average of just 92 yards. The Wildcats are also one of two Division-II teams who have yet to allow a rushing touchdown this season.

“He’s their work horse, rightfully so,” Yelk said, referring to Bell. “He’s produced for them, week in (and) week out, so really our main task is to contain him and hopefully our offense can give us a little help to make things a little easier.”

The Wildcats feature a potent rushing attack of their own that has carried them through the season so far. NMU ranks sixth nationally averaging 271 yards per game. Saturday will feature the three back rushing attack of NMU vs. Bell.

“It’s their running game against our running game. They’ve got one back, we’ve got three backs,” Anderson said. “So we want to prove that our three backs are better than their one back.”

Bossuah felt the same way.

“We do like to think of it as it’s their running back vs. our running backs,” Bossuah said. “If our running backs do what we’ve done for most of the year we will be perfectly fine.”

Kickoff will be at 1 p.m. in the Superior Dome.