Superior Dome ready to welcome back Wildcats

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NMU senior running back Jake Mayon fights for extra yardage on a run last season against the Northwood University Timberwolves. Mayon is the Wildcat’s top offensive returner and looks to play a dynamic role this season for NMU. Mayon rushed for a team high 1,377 yards a season ago in 10 games played, averaging 137.7 yards per game. Photo courtesy of NMU athletics

Ryan Spitza

The Northern Michigan University Football team will look to rebound in its home opener at the Superior Dome Saturday after a season opening, road loss to the McKendree University Bearcats, 34-28 last weekend.

Senior running back Jake Mayon rushed for 173 yards while sophomore quarterback Latrell Giles went 10-for-18 passing with 176 yards through the air.

Despite out-possessing McKendree and getting 28 first downs to the Bearcats’ 19, as well as 515 yards of total offense to McKendree’s 442, the offensive performance wasn’t enough for NMU who fell to a 0-1 record.

Mayon got the first touchdown of the game on a four-yard rush to the end zone at the 2:32 mark of the first quarter. The Bearcats answered that call early in the second with a 52-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Reece Metcalf to junior wide receiver Matt Cole, with the extra point tying the game at 7-7.

The 7-7 tie was the score at halftime before McKendree came out and scored the next 10 points via a field goal and another touchdown pass from Metcalf to senior wide receiver Jalyn Williams to pull ahead 17-7.

The Wildcats answered that with a 66-yard pass from Giles to freshman wide receiver Benjamin Loutsis to pull within three.

The Wildcats notched two more touchdowns in the game; a three-yard quarterback keeper from Giles and a 17-yard touchdown pass to junior wide receiver Ryan Knight from backup freshman quarterback Kole Stealy. Unfortunately for the Wildcats, the defense also gave up two fourth quarter touchdowns and the Bearcats held on.

Loutsis led NMU receivers with five catches for 117 yards while Knight had three catches for 40 yards. Metcalf went 17-for-25 with 258 yards and three touchdowns for the Bearcats while senior receiver Josh Revay had five catches for 83 yards.

The Wildcats now look ahead to The University of Texas of the Permian Basin (UTPB), who are also seeking their first win. UTPB fell to Texas Southern last week 26-16. Football is still in the developmental phase at UTPB, who added a Division II program in 2015.

In the quest to break the NMU school record for most career rushing yards, Mayon needs 782 more yards from scrimmage to overtake Steve Avery’s record of 3,686 yards set between 1985-88.

Kickoff at the Superior Dome is set for 1 p.m. Saturday. Fans planning to tailgate can enjoy local cuisine and entertainment provided before the game.