’Cats look to finish season on high note

Jon Young

Losing streaks are never easy and the NMU football team (2-4 GLIAC, 3-4 overall) is in the midst of a four-game skid after suffering a 35-6 loss to the Ferris State University Bulldogs last Saturday.

Head coach Bernie Anderson said the team has to play better in all aspects of the game if they expect to get a win.

“We have to start executing,” Anderson said. “We’ve got to throw the ball better, we’ve got to catch the ball better, we’ve got to run the ball better, we’ve got to block better. It sounds pretty simple that way, but that’s the bottom line.”

The Bulldogs jumped on the board first with a touchdown on their first possession and found the end zone again, going up 14-0 after the first quarter.

Ferris State’s offense was firing on all cylinders as they put up 554 total yards compared to 222 from the ’Cats.

“Once again, it seems to be the same story,” Anderson said. “We’re not making plays when we need to make plays on both sides of the football, and we had opportunities to get first downs but we didn’t execute it. We had opportunities to stop them and force them to punt and we didn’t execute it.”

The only points for NMU came from junior kicker Rockne Belmonte, as he connected on a season-long 45-yard strike and a 25-yard shot to make the game 14-6. Belmonte has connected on eight of 11 field goals this season, third best in the GLIAC.

The Bulldogs responded with a field goal and went into halftime with a 17-6 lead.

The second half was all Ferris as they scored another field goal, forced a safety and found the end zone twice. Anderson said getting all his players on the same page has been a challenge.

“For the most part, it’s nine or 10 guys getting the job done and one or two break down on both sides,” Anderson said. “We’re just hurting ourselves right now with the lack of execution.”

The losing streak hasn’t been made any easier with mounting injuries on both sides of the ball for NMU.

Senior running back and punt returner John Privitelli is out for the season after suffering a fractured fibula against Northwood in week three. Privitelli, who will receive a medical redshirt, was last season’s leading rusher.

On defense, NMU is still without senior first-team All-GLIAC linebacker Eddie Knoblock, who went down against Findlay in week two with a knee injury.

“Those two injuries have hurt us,” Anderson said. ‘We were a different team in the first three games and now without those two we’re a little different. But that’s not an excuse; the others still have to perform.”

The Wildcats were led on the offensive end by junior running back Prince Young. Young had a season high 149 yards on 19 carries.

Junior linebacker Josh Droese led the team in tackles with 11, seven of which were solo. Anderson had high praise of the linebacker’s effort.

“He’s playing his heart out,” Anderson said. “We have individuals, and Josh Droese is one of them who is playing his heart out, giving it everything he has and executing.”

The ’Cats will attempt to end their losing streak next weekend as they travel to Indianapolis to take on the University of Indianapolis Greyhounds (4-2 GLIAC, 5-2 overall) at 6 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 22.

“We have to forget about the record,” Droese said. “We are still a very talented football team with four games left and we have a chance to prove that.”