Wildcats edged by Tiffin

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Von Lanier

The Wildcats failed to pounce the Tiffin Dragons in Saturday’s game at the Frost Kalnow stadium in Ohio, despite junior running back Jake Mayon’s third game of the season with 200 rushing yards.

It was a hard-fought game for both teams as there were players injured on either side, but it was the Dragons that came out on top, as they put it away with just over five minutes remaining in the game. NMU fell to Tiffin University 35-24 in Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletics Conference football. Junior Jake Mayon finished the game with 219 yards on 22 carries and two touchdowns for NMU.

Head football coach Kyle Nystrom said there were some things that he liked both offensively and defensively in his team during the game against Tiffin, but there were also some things that he would like to see improve.

“We played really good in parts, and really bad in other parts, whereas one mistake or one play that wasn’t executed right led to a lot worse things,” Nystrom said in a press conference on Tuesday.

The ’Cats came out ferociously with a five-play touchdown on their opening drive. Fueled by a 35-yard gain by Mayon to Tiffin’s 19-yard line, freshman quarterback Ryan Johnson hit sophomore wide receiver Ryan Knight for a 19-yard touchdown catch to give NMU a 7-0 lead that followed a PAT from freshman kicker Dalton Ray.

The Dragons responded immediately with a 78-yard drive on their next possession. Freshman quarterback Nick Watson rushed for 30 yards to keep the drive moving, and finished it with an 11-yard fade route throw to senior wide receiver Tony Shead Jr. in the corner of the end zone to make it 7-7 at the 6:19 mark of the first quarter.

Nystrom attributed Tiffin’s ability to outscore the ’Cats to things like missed tackles on defense and the inability of the Wildcat’s o-line to close the gaps on blitz plays from Tiffin’s defense. The game got away from NMU in the fourth quarter after Tiffin managed to break the tie at 21-21 with a touchdown on the second play of the fourth quarter, putting the score at 21-28.

The ’Cat’s rebuttaled with a field goal from the Tiffin five-yard line and narrowed the score to 28-24 before the Dragons eventually increased their lead with another touchdown at 5:46 left to play. This put the score at 35-24, where it stayed for the remainder of the game.   

“It was back and forth. We had our opportunities, as did they, we just didn’t capitalize,” Nystrom said.

Freshman quarterback Ryan Johnson was out of the game due to an injury but Nystrom said he will be ready to play in the upcoming Wildcat’s game against Saginaw Valley.

NMU now sits at ninth in the GLIAC, with Tiffin securing the fourth spot after Saturday’s game. The Wildcats will look to bounce back with a win in this upcoming Saturday’s game against the Saginaw Valley State University Cardinals at the Superior Dome. The Cardinals sit seventh in the GLIAC coming off of a 49-17 loss to Ferris State University.

“We’re starting to play better as we play more but we’ve got a ways to go,” Nystrom said at the end of the press conference. “So, we’ll keep pushing forward.”