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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.

Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Dallas WiertellaApril 30, 2024

‘Cats lose, GLIAC title hopes still alive

The NMU football team’s five-game win streak came to an end this weekend as the Wildcats fell to 5-2 on the year in a 28-17 loss to Hillsdale College in the Superior Dome.

The loss dropped the Wildcats from the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Top 25, one week after entering the poll for the first time ever. The ‘Cats are now 3-1 this season in the Superior Dome; Saturday’s game drew a crowd of over 6,000.

Head coach Bernie Anderson felt the team never found their niche offensively after being tied 7-7 at halftime.

“We really never seemed to get into a good offensive swing,” Anderson said. “We never had a good, sustained drive that drained them and helped us.”

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Hillsdale scored on all three of their possessions in the third quarter, dropping a 28-10 lead on the Wildcats. Senior running back Mark Bossuah found the endzone early in the fourth, but it proved to be too little, too late, with the final score 28-17.

Offensively, the Wildcats totaled 370 yards, with 176 rushing and 194 passing. Bossuah ran for 79 yards and a score, his tenth of the season. Sophomore quarterback Carter Kopach completed 15 of 29 passes for 151 yards and one touchdown. Junior linebacker Demitri Stewart led the ‘Cats defensively with 13 tackles, while senior linebacker Nathan Yelk totaled 11 on the afternoon.

“We didn’t play our best ball, and against a good ball team like that, that’s what happens,” Yelk said. “We just have to bounce back with a good week of practice and then hit the road.”

The 28 points given up by the defense was the most since the loss in the first game of the year against Northwood.

“We’ll definitely use it as motivation,” Yelk said. “Wins and losses are a team thing however. We definitely look at it to see what we can do better, but 28 points is inexcusable from my point of view.”

NMU will now hit the road for two consecutive weeks traveling to Findlay (6-2, 5-2 GLIAC) then to No. 6 Grand Valley State (7-1, 6-1 GLIAC) in two games that will be pivotal to the conference title. Findlay sits tied with Northern at second in the GLIAC standings with GVSU taking the top spot.

Anderson doesn’t feel the loss at home to Hillsdale will slow down the motivation of his team.

“Now we’re under the gun,” he said. “Now we’re going to test ourselves individually and do what we have to do as a group, but I’m confident that they’ll learn from this adversity and pull together and we’ll be fine.”

Last year the University of Findlay was one of just two wins for this Wildcat team. But much like NMU has bounced back from a two win season, Findlay has done the same and shown much improvement this year.

In the GLIAC preseason rankings Findlay was predicted to finish 9th with NMU predicted 10th. Things have definitely turned around for the two second place teams as of now.

“We’re very, very similar teams,” Bossuah said. “We’re two teams that people didn’t think would be doing this well. This year, the winner has a chance to finish first or second in conference and also a playoff shot, so this is a very important game.”

NMU’s defense will need to focus on the passing game once again as Findlay ranks fourth in the conference in passing offense, averaging 215 yards a game. NMU’s pass defense ranks eighth overall in the conference and is coming off of a game in which they gave up 276 yards through the air.

“It’s just missed assignments really,” Yelk said. “We had a few miscommunication errors. It’s mainly just playing more disciplined, taking care of your assignments.”

Northern is still off to its best start since the 2000 season, when they also went 5-2 through its first seven. During NMU’s tiring five game win streak the team thrashed opponents by a margin of 212 to 56, including two shutouts by the NMU defense. It was clear in Saturday’s matchup that the streak took a punishing toll on the team’s energy level.

“I thought we were a bit of a tired team this week,” Anderson said. “That’s on me. So we’re going to rest them up this week and then go on the road.”

There lies no question if the drive and determination to become GLIAC conference champions still exists for this team this weekend when they will face off against yet another tough conference opponent.

“It’s going to be a hard fought game because it’s two teams that are hungry to still win,” Bossuah said. “It’s two teams that haven’t been winning in years past, so this year we’re both hungry to win games.”

The 2000 Wildcats that started 5-2 finished the season 6-5, missing out on any hopes of a conference title. Players this year however don’t want to get caught looking into the future.

“We don’t want to look too far ahead,” Yelk said. “Findlay is a great opponent, their defense is very solid. So we need to take care of business as usual. [The conference race] will all sort out if we keep doing our job.”

This weekends game kicks off Saturday at 12:00 p.m. in Findlay, Ohio at Donnell Stadium.

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