NMU stuffs Northwood to hault road drought

Jon Young

When the NMU football team lost to Michigan Tech on Saturday, Oct. 6 they were 1-5 and still in search of their first GLIAC win.

“We really didn’t feel like we were in as bad as shape as everyone thought we were at 1-5,” said head coach Chris Ostrowsky. “We understood it was part of the learning curve.”

Close to a month later, the Wildcats have won two of their last three games, including their first road win of the season on Saturday, Oct. 27, when they defeated Northwood, 21-13.

Senior defensive lineman Zach Anderson, who recorded 10 tackles in the Northwood game, said it was a relief to pick up the first road win of the year.

“It feels good; it feels like a long time coming, but to finally get it off our back feels good,” Anderson said. “We needed this win. It gave us a little head of steam coming off of Wayne State, that close loss like that; we needed a win and hopefully that win can carry over against Saginaw Valley.”

The ’Cats (2-6 GLIAC, 3-6 overall) jumped out to a 14-7 halftime lead with senior quarterback Cody Scepaniak connecting on 60-and 55-yard touchdown passes to junior wide receiver Christian Jessie.

The Wildcats beat Northwood in all facets of the offense as they won the time-of-possession battle, racked up more first downs, and gained more rushing and passing yards.

“I think we’re a pretty multiple team, so when we execute, it’s tough to defend and it worked out for us,” Ostrowsky said. “I think Cody is bringing nice dimensions to what we are trying to get done and Casey (Cotta) is doing well and they’re really doing great up front.”

Scepaniak threw for 182 yards and two touchdowns. He also was the game’s leading rusher, picking up 133 yards and one touchdown on the ground. Anderson said the offensive improvements have direct correlations with the defensive improvements.

“We went from spending more than half the game on the field and now it’s almost vice versa, with the offense spending more time on the field,” Anderson said. “Our backs are more rested. They’re not getting beat deep like they were at the beginning of the year and the same thing with the D-line.We’re getting more rush, and we’re getting more pressure than we were.”

Northwood was able to get within one; 14-13, in the third quarter before Scepaniak rushed for the final score of the game with 2:22 left in the third quarter. The Timberwolves threatened in the fourth quarter, but the Wildcat defense forced a turnover-on-downs with 11 seconds left.

The defense held Northwood to 4 of 17 on third downs attempts. Ostrowsky said the road win was one of the high points of the season.

“This season has been filled with a lot of peaks and valleys,” Ostrowsky said. “That was certainly a peak, one of hopefully many and our players are just really responding right now to everything we’ve got in place.”

The ’Cats are home this weekend as they take on Saginaw Valley at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 3.