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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 Wiertella April 30, 2024

Comeback falls short

A furious fourth quarter rally fell just short as NMU dropped a 38-31 road battle to Wayne State on Saturday, Oct. 20.

Senior quarterback Cody Scepaniak said the Wildcats weren’t intimidated by the Warriors, who were runner-ups in 2011 NCAA Division II Championship.

“We knew it was going to be a tough physical game against Wayne State,” Scepaniak said. “They were second in the National Championship last year, so we went out with the mentality that we just got to go out there and believe in each other and we did.”

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The ’Cats (1-6 GLIAC, 2-6 overall) fell behind 31-10 with 4:19 left in the third quarter before rattling off 21 straight points to tie the game at 31 a piece, with just over two minutes left in the fourth quarter.

The ’Cats tied the game on a 25-yard strike from Scepaniak to junior wide receiver Christian Jessie with 2:21 left in the game.

Wayne State scored with just over a minute left to take the 38-31 lead.

With just over a minute left the NMU drove the ball to the Wayne State 28-yard line.

The ’Cats had a final shot at the endzone but Scepaniak’s pass was intercepted as time expired.

Scepaniak said the team battled until the end and he thinks the momentum will carry over to this week’s game.

“We fought hard, we were down by 21 and we came back and tied the game up with three minutes to go,” Scepaniak said. “You can’t ask for much more than that. “We ended up falling short but we’re still pumped and excited that we can play with a team like that and we’re ready to win this weekend.”

Eight of the last 10 games against the two teams have been decided by eight points or less.

Head coach Chris Ostrowsky said he wasn’t happy with the loss but he is pleased with the growth he has seen in his team.

“It was a great day to be a Wildcat,” Ostrowsky said. “You’re never happy when you lose games, now in terms of the progress of this program, I’m really, really becoming very happy with the way we’re going about our approach. As long as we continue to keep growing it’s going to be very special.”

The ’Cats got a big boost from junior running back Casey Cotta in their Saturday, Oct. 13 win against Grand Valley.

Cotta kept at it against Wayne State racking up 100 yards rushing and adding two touchdowns. In his first two games Cotta has four touchdowns and 230 yards rushing.

Another young Wildcat who is making his impact felt is freshman wide receiver Sterlin Darling who has had two 118-yard receiving games in-a-row. Scepaniak said Darling’s work at practice is paying off.

“He’s a young kid and he’s surprised all of us,” Scepaniak said. “He works hard at practice and in the game he gets in the zone, and when he’s in that zone you just got to believe in your guys, he believes in me and I trust him and he goes up and gets the ball, and you can’t ask for much more as a quarterback.”

Scepaniak finished the game 18-30 for 229 yards and one touchdown. He also scrambled for another 60 yards and a touchdown.

The Wildcat defense held the Warriors to three of 10 on third down conversions. Senior linebacker Eddie Knoblock and redshirt freshman defensive back Matt Smith both recorded interceptions for NMU. Freshman defensive lineman Levi Perry led the Wildcats with 10 tackles.

Junior defensive back Chris Collins recorded eight tackles and Knoblock added eight. Senior defensive end Zach Anderson also contributed five tackles and a sack. Ostrowsky said the offense and defense feed off each other.

“I think our defense is playing well, so it’s consequently helping the offense,” Ostrowsky said. “You know very rarely is one side of the ball in football doing well just because they’re so special. It takes a lot of different intangibles and right now we’re just playing really well as a team.”

The ’Cats take on Northwood (3-4 GLIAC, 4-4 overall) this weekend for their final road game of the year. Kickoff is at noon, Saturday, Oct. 27 in Midland, Mich.

The Wildcats beat Northwood 38-17 last season. Ostrowsky said the team is taking it one game at a time.

“Northwood’s a good football team and it’s another away game and we just want to take it one week at a time and not be in a rush for the season to end and just hope to continue to get better,” Ostrowsky said.

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