Mayon guides team to high-flying victory

Senior+running+back+Jake+Mayon+carried+the+ball+35+times+for+224+yards+in+a+win+last+weekend+against+the+University+of+Texas+Permian+Basin.+Mayon+needs+to+rush+for+574+more+yards+to+pass+the+NMU+all-time+career+rushing+yard+record+set+by+Steve+Avery+between+the+1985-88+seasons.%0APhoto+courtesy+of+NMU+athletics+

Senior running back Jake Mayon carried the ball 35 times for 224 yards in a win last weekend against the University of Texas Permian Basin. Mayon needs to rush for 574 more yards to pass the NMU all-time career rushing yard record set by Steve Avery between the 1985-88 seasons. Photo courtesy of NMU athletics

Ryan Spitza

The Northern Michigan University Football team got in the win column last week with a 27-22 victory over the University of Texas of the Permian Basin (UTPB) in the Wildcats’ home opener at the Superior Dome.

NMU put out a strong offensive performance with 454 yards of total offense. Sophomore quarterback Latrell Giles went 8-for-12, passing for 117 yards and one touchdown. Senior running back Jake Mayon added 224 yards rushing in the win.

The defense also did its job, posting 26 solo tackles while only giving up 66 rushing yards.
The Wildcats wasted no time getting on the scoreboard, with sophomore running back Deandre Caldwell taking a 23-yard rush to the end zone less than two minutes into the game.

A field goal from freshman kicker Daniel Riser later in the first quarter made it a 10-0 game before UTPB got on the board on an 18-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Sam Allen to junior wide receiver Ben Galaviz to make it 10-7.

That score remained for a majority of the second quarter until 1:27 to play until halftime, when Giles found freshman wide receiver Ben Loutsis on a 15-yard touchdown pass to put the Wildcats up 17-7 going into the locker room.

The teams traded field goals, and UTPB made it a four-point game in the fourth quarter when Allen connected with senior wide receiver Mitchell Leonard on a 19-yard pass. The extra point was blocked however, preventing a field goal from tying the game.

With 4:50 left in the game, Mayon found the end zone on a 24-yard scamper to make it 27-16. Then with 2:21 remaining, UTPB made it a 27-22 game with Allen finding Leonard again for 31 yards.

The defense held on after that though, sending the Wildcats to their first victory of the season.

NMU now continues its three-game home stand with a matchup against the No. 5 ranked Grand Valley State University (GVSU).

It’s GVSU’s first visit to the Superior Dome since 2012, where the Wildcat’s topped the Lakers 38-10, which was also NMU’s last win against GVSU.

NMU head coach Kyle Nystrom said he’s simply expecting his team to play better each week.

“I’m expecting to play a really good football game,” he said. “The better we play, the better opportunity we’re going to have to win.”

Nystrom also credited Giles, who has rounded into form as a starter the first two weeks of the season.
“He gets better every game,” Nystrom said. “I expect him to play better and make better decisions than he did last week. The more he plays, the better he gets.”

Defensively, Nystrom said there are still some things to work on going into this game, particularly pass defense.
“We were good enough against the run last week but not good enough against the ball through the air,” Nystrom said. “We’ve got to get tightened up there and with Grand Valley, they’ve got a great offense, they’ve got some good backs and a good quarterback.

“We’re going to have to do what we’ve got to do against the run and defend the throw.” Nystrom added. “They’ve got good people so we’re going to have to be at the top of our show to get it done.”

Giles said preparing for a tough opponent is the key to hanging with a tough opponent.

“It’s about being ready and staying focused,” he said. “We know what we’ve got to hit so we’ve just got to be ready. Preparation is 60 percent of the battle. If you prepare, you’re already a step ahead.”

Giles said the mentality going forward is simply about getting in the win column and helping the Wildcats get to 2-1.

“2-1,” he said. “Stay focused and that’s it. Lay it all out on the field.”

Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. on Saturday at the Superior Dome.