NMU drops Miner’s Cup: Michigan Tech takes 13th victory in the last 16 years


Photo by Neil Flavin: Junior running back Jake Mayon caps-off the first quarter of the Wildcat’s game against Davenport.

Trevor Drew

After shooting out to a 14-point lead in the first quarter of the 2017 Miner’s Cup, it looked as though the Wildcats might actually snap their 7-year losing streak against their rival, the Michigan Tech Huskies.

Instead, it ended in another heartbreak for NMU as Tech prevailed 28-21 over the Wildcats for their eighth consecutive Miner’s Cup victory.

Although the Wildcats scored on their first two possessions of the game, failure to pull off big plays at critical moments prevented them from overwhelming the Huskies, NMU head coach Kyle Nystrom said.

Northern failed to extend their 14-point lead to 17 when freshman kicker Dalton ray sent a 47-yard field goal attempt far left.

Another missed opportunity came in the second quarter after an interception off a deflection by NMU junior cornerback Demarious Wright set the Wildcats up at the Tech 33. NMU failed to capitalize on the possession and ended the drive with a 25-yard field goal attempt blocked by Tech senior Spencer Moran.

Nystrom also identified execution problems on the defensive side as one of his team’s shortcomings in the competition.

He explained that, based on his thirty years of coaching experience, the defensive strategy the team currently employs is among the easiest to adjust to.

“Players are struggling doing what we teach them to do and it’s not hard,” Nystrom said. “That’s of the one reasons we run this scheme.”

Negatives aside, junior running back Jake Mayon finished with 157 yards rushing on 31 carries, a touchdown and also threw his first ever touchdown. Over three minutes into the final quarter, Mayon took a pitch and, instead of rushing, found freshmen Tanner Kruzel for a 30-yard touchdown, giving NMU the 21-20 lead.

Kruzel finished with 116 yards receiving and two touchdowns.

“Frustrating” and “disappointing” were words Nystrom used to describe last Saturday’s game but he made it clear that the team must get over the loss if they want any chance to beat next week’s foe.

The team prepares for their second home game of the season against the Ashland University Eagles, a program that has earned respect in the eyes of Nystrom who evaluated the team as the best in the country.

“If you want to see a real, live, good football team come watch Saturday, Nystrom said. “We’re going to be in there playing them.”

The Eagles are currently tied for the number two possession in the GLIAC with a conference record of 3-0

Last Saturday, Ashland claimed a 38-0 win over the Davenport University Panthers and the week before they defeated the Ferris State Bulldogs, a team that beat NMU by over 30 points early in the season, in a 20-3 game.

The Wildcats kick off action in the Superior Dome at 1:30 p.m. Saturday Oct. 7.