Special victory for Wildcats in Detroit

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Sophomore quarterback Latrell Giles rolls out of the pocket in a home match-up earlier this season. The Wildcats currently carry a 3-7 record on the season and are 1-6 in GLIAC competition. Football’s regular season will end this Saturday from Ashland, Ohio. Photo courtesy of NMU Athletics

Ryan Spitza

After a heartbreaking loss to rival Michigan Tech one week prior, the Northern Michigan University Football team got itself back in the win column in the most dramatic victory of the season.

Down 24-20 with under two minutes to play, the Wildcats scored two touchdowns in the waning minutes to seal a 34-24 victory over the Wayne State University (WSU) Warriors in Detroit last Saturday.
Sophomore quarterback Latrell Giles took a one-yard rush into the end zone with 1:28 left to put NMU back in the lead 27-24, before freshman safety Anthony Ladd sealed the deal with 10 seconds remaining, intercepting Warriors sophomore quarterback Jake AmRhein at the NMU three-yard line and taking it back for a 97-yard pick six.

The Wildcats now carry a 3-7 record on the season and are 1-6 in GLIAC competition.

NMU head coach Kyle Nystrom said the dramatic last-minute win was a fun game to himself and his players.

“I loved every minute of it,” Nystrom said. “I told the team that I’ve been fortunate in 31 years of coaching. I’ve had some big wins and at the same time some defeats too. I told them as many close or big wins that I’ve had at other schools, this one is right up there at number one with the ones that were my favorite. That’s how it felt.

“The players were grinding, they worked hard,” Nystrom added. “They fought, they were tough and they were resilient. They pushed through barriers, there were hiccups all game but we found a way to come out on the plus side and I was happy for them.”
The Wildcats found themselves down 17-3 in the third quarter before three straight NMU scores. Senior running back Jake Mayon got the rally started with a five-yard touchdown run to pull within one touchdown.

Freshman kicker Daniel Riser made it 17-13 with a 17-yard field goal later in the third quarter and NMU grabbed its first lead of the game with just under 12 minutes to play.

WSU took the lead back just over three minutes later on a two-yard touchdown run from junior running back James Hill with 8:31 left in the game.

That’s when NMU was forced to rally again, with the Wildcats taking an offensive possession 14 plays downfield before Giles’ one-yard touchdown run to put NMU back on top.

The interception from Ladd came on a pivotal 3rd and 1 at the NMU 10-yard line to clinch the victory. Ladd’s performance, which included six tackles, five of which were solo, earned him the GLIAC Defensive Player of the Week honors.

Mayon rushed for 179 yards on 36 carries and one touchdown while Giles went 6-of-10 passing for 147 yards.

Freshman Benjamin Loutsis led NMU receivers with four catches for 117 yards.

The Wildcats wrap up the 2018 campaign with a trip against the Ashland University Eagles (5-4, 5-2 GLIAC).

In last year’s game at the Superior Dome, the Eagles took a 38-13 victory from NMU.

Nystrom said the Eagles are better than what their record currently shows.

“We’re getting ready to play an elite team,” Nystrom said. “If you know their football program and you’ve watched them, you can look at their record and say they’re a lot better than that. They’re a legit football program. They’re good so we’re going to have to be on top of our game.

“It’s going to be a battle but it’s going to be a fun game,” Nystrom added. “It’s the last game of the year so you have that energy. This is your last week together every day so you’ve got to cherish the times you have with everybody because the picture will never be the same. We have a lot to play for. I look forward to preparation this week and going down to Ashland and playing.”

Kickoff from Ashland, Ohio is set to begin at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 10.