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Katarina Rothhorn
Katarina Rothhorn
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The first message I ever sent from my Northern Michigan University sanctioned email was to the editor-in-chief of the North Wind asking if there was any way I could join the staff. Classes hadn't even...

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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

Wildcats lose first GLIAC game 26-18

The Northern Michigan University football team lost their perfect GLIAC record, as the team lost 26-18 to the Wayne State Warriors last Saturday, Oct. 2. In the game, NMU had four turnovers.

“Whenever you turn the ball over four times, it’s tough to win a football game,” said head coach Bernie Anderson.

The rainy game in Detroit was a smash-mouthed game of two hard-hitting teams. WSU and NMU were the top two defenses in the GLIAC going into the matchup. Both teams left some bruises for the other side.

“They were a physical team, probably the most physical team we’ve played this year,” said junior tight end Craig Thompson.

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The most banged-up player on the field was junior quarterback Carter Kopach. After being named GLIAC offensive player of the week two weeks in a row, Kopach had problems in the air, completing 22 of 47, with 5 interceptions and zero passing touchdowns over the past two weeks. Poor play has lead to grumblings and doubt in the Wildcat fan base, not only about Kopach’s ability, but also the play of the offensive line, as the group has let up 17 sacks for 139 yards lost this season.

“It’s a part of the growing process,” said offensive coordinator Chris Ostrowsky.  “I think the offensive line is a young group trying to gel together and they’re working hard. Kopach is as tough of a guy as can be. We’re trying to do some different things and trying to keep things in perspective.”

Despite what happened with Kopach and the line, the wide receivers and running backs are starting to shine. Transfer players John Privitelli and Phillipe Smith recorded 22 carries for 70 yards. It was the most carries in a game as a Wildcat for both players.

“I’m glad the coaches gave me the opportunity for that role. I liked being involved in the offense like that, and I had fun doing it,” said Privitelli.  “We had to keep battling and I felt strong through the whole game.”

Senior Dustin Brancheau led the Wildcat receivers with five receptions for 111 yards. Brancheau was one of five ’Cats with a reception as the unit combined for 15 catches and 218 yards. The players also showed a great deal of versatility, as freshman wide receiver Christian Marble-King added 15 rushing yards on three attempts, Privitelli came out of the backfield for sixteen receiving yards. Also, Marble-King, Thompson and junior wide receiver Tony Awrey recorded one tackle a piece after turnovers.

“We got good chemistry and were blending well with each other,” Brancheau said. “(We’re) stepping up and its coming out good for us.”

Northern kept this game close as the offense seemed to settle down in the second half to produce longer drives. However, the Wildcats could only score three points in the third and fourth quarters. The best opportunity for Northern in that time was a fourth-and-one at the Wayne State 19 yard line, which was in the range of kicker Rockne Belmonte. Belmonte hit field goals from 38 and 44 yards earlier in the game and had the wind at his back, but missed his first PAT this year in the second quarter.

“You got to get a yard. If you get a yard, you get a first down and have a better scoring opportunity,” Anderson said. “It was a 39 yard field goal and it’s not a gimme and we didn’t get one yard.”

Belmonte’s field goals, including his longest as a Wildcat, weren’t the only aspect of the special teams that improved this week. Punt and kickoff yards were longer than the season average for the second straight week.

“It’s from a lot of overtime after practice,” Belmonte said. “(We’re) making sure we’re early for each group and making sure we are all on the same page.”

The rushing defense of the ’Cats held the running back tandem of Toney Davis and Josh Renel to only 136 yards, the lowest total they have been held to all year. Both running backs are ranked in the top ten for rushing yards in the conference this year and Renel leads the GLIAC in all-purpose yards with over 200 yards per game. The defense also stepped up in the passing game holding Warrior quarterback Mickey Mohner to only 180 yards through the air. Senior linebacker Eddie Knoblock was also able to intercept Mohner near the end of the first half and return the pick-six for 70 yards.

“(WSU) seemed to be settling down before half and I was able to jump the slant,” Knoblock said.

This was the first GLIAC loss of the season and second loss overall, bringing their overall record to 3-2. However, this Wayne State game was different from the first loss of the season, as last minute heroics from the offense set up the Wildcats with a two-point conversion opportunity for a chance to win the game. After a loss where the winning or losing play isn’t as clear cut, the team is looking for the positives going into the next week.

“Our team stuck together and fought until the end,” Privitelli said. “There were a lot of parts in the game where teams could have crumbled, but the defense kept pushing the offense and the offense kept pushing the defense and we stuck to it.”

The next game for the Wildcats is the Grand Valley Lakers, the top-ranked team in the American Football Coaches Association poll. Grand Valley is 5-0 this season, but has played far from perfect. Grand Valley was formerly ranked first in the D2football.com poll, but fell to second after their controversial victory against Hillsdale, where poor clock management by the Charger coaching staff gave GVSU the win. But wherever the Lakers are ranked, the Wildcats are looking forward to travelling to Allendale.

“We’re a lot hungrier and that’s one thing we need,” Brancheau said. “We’re going up against the number one team in the country and we’re ready for them.”

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