’Cats looking for wins to close out season

Jon Young

The NMU men’s football team (2-5 GLIAC, 3-5 overall) had its best offensive game in over a month, but it wasn’t enough to pick up the win as they dropped their fifth straight decision in a 38-31 loss to the University of Indianapolis Greyhounds.

The offense racked up 434 yards of total offense, including 232 on the ground. After falling behind by 14 with 8:47 remaining in the fourth quarter, the ’Cats mounted a comeback. Senior quarterback Carter Kopach hit sophomore wide receiver Christian Marble-King with a 3-yard touchdown strike to pull it to 38-31.

NMU stopped the Greyhounds on the next defensive possession but, with 34 seconds left were unable to find the endzone. Head coach Bernie Anderson said he was encouraged with the play of the offense.

“Offensively, we did what we wanted to do,” Anderson said. “We had some nice long drives and used up more clock, we ran more plays, we executed much better and I thought we had a nice game. It was just unfortunate that we didn’t get the award of winning.”

The ’Cats defense kept the Greyhounds offense in check through the first quarter. Indianapolis managed only two first downs and no points as NMU marched out to an early lead. Anderson said the defense played well despite the long pass.

“With the exception of four big plays, we stopped probably one of the best offenses in the conference,” Anderson said. “We gave up passes of 49, 45, 60 and 72 yards. Those are big keys.”

NMU took the opening kickoff and drove 11 plays for 60 yards that ended in a Kopach touchdown scramble. Kopach rushed for his second touchdown of the quarter with 2:34 left to put the ’Cats up 13-0. Kopach racked up 88 yards on the ground to go along with three rushing touchdowns. Anderson said it all starts up front.

“It starts with the offensive line,” Anderson said. “We were able to run the football and protect and I thought Carter Kopach played a good game.”

After the quick start, Indianapolis responded with 21 unanswered points to go into halftime with a 21-13 lead. Junior defensive lineman Zach Anderson said the team needs to work on carrying the start throughout the game.

“We need to keep our momentum going,” (Zach) Anderson said. “We start out strong every game, but as soon as we lose momentum we start to make little mistakes that have been costing us all year.”

The ’Cats held the Greyhound run game under 100 yards but gave up 415 yards through the air. Coach Anderson said the big play has hurt the secondary.

“We can’t give up that big play,” Anderson said. “We struggle against the pass, and we have some veterans back there that need to make plays and not give up the big play.”

Junior running back Prince Young had his second straight game with over 100 yards rushing. Young, who is in his first year with NMU, leads all backs with 130 yards on 21 carries. Anderson said he is starting to fit into the system.

“He’s getting a good feel and getting into a rhythm and running much harder and much more confident than he had earlier,” Anderson said. “He’s learning how to run his own plays, and now we’re getting some good blocking up front.”

Defensively, the ’Cats were paced by Anderson who recorded eight tackles and a sack. Freshman linebacker Wyatt Jurasin contributed seven tackles to round out the NMU defense.

Next weekend, the Wildcats host the Tiffin University Dragons (0-7 GLIAC, 0-8 overall) at 1 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 29. Anderson said despite Tiffin’s record, the team has to come ready to play.

“Typically a team like that is going to come up and play one good game somewhere along the line,” Anderson said. “We’re not worried about Tiffin as much as we’re worried about Northern Michigan and how Northern Michigan plays.”