Decade of despair

UNDERDOG+STORY%E2%80%94Running+back+Tyshon+King+dodges+past+Husky+defenders+during+Saturday%E2%80%99s+24-20+loss+to+Michigan+Tech.+King+paced+the+Wildcats+with+189+total+yards+and+two+touchdowns+in+the+game.+The+Wildcats+lost+its+10th+straight+game+to+Michigan+Tech+on+Saturday.+Photo+courtesy+of+NMU+Athletics.

UNDERDOG STORY—Running back Tyshon King dodges past Husky defenders during Saturday’s 24-20 loss to Michigan Tech. King paced the Wildcats with 189 total yards and two touchdowns in the game. The Wildcats lost its 10th straight game to Michigan Tech on Saturday. Photo courtesy of NMU Athletics.

Travis Nelson

Snow came down for the first time this year on Saturday, and it felt like just another year in the U.P. It was the same feeling for the NMU Football team as well as they lost 24-20 to the Michigan Technological University (MTU) Huskies for the 10th season in a row. The Miner’s Cup will sit in Houghton for another year after the Wildcats missed out on an opportunity to win. 

Tech fumbled six times, and NMU recovered five of them. MTU lost the turnover battle by four, but like the past decade, found a way to win this rivalry game. 

NMU stumbled to 1-5 on the season while MTU improved to 3-2. If you ask Head Coach Kyle Nystrom what the difference in the game was, he’ll give you one answer.

“The game where we lost our edge was in the passing game on both sides of the ball. We couldn’t handle Jacob Wenzlick and Ben Hartley, their two senior receivers, when we needed to handle them,” Nystrom said. “We weren’t good in the passing game when we needed to be good in the passing game. Our rhythm was off, our throws weren’t where we needed them to be, that was the difference in the game.”

MTU quarterback Will Ark went 21-30 for 347 yards and had three touchdowns. Wenzlick and Hartley did a lot of damage for the Huskies, combining for 270 receiving yards and three touchdowns. Wildcats quarterback Ryan Johnson couldn’t get it going however, as he finished  6-17 for 158 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. All together, Tech outgained Northern 467-276 in total offense and outscored the ’Cats 14-7 in the second half. 

Running back Tyshon King was the biggest bright spot of the day for NMU, tallying 25 carries for 114 yards and a touchdown. He also was NMU’s leading receiver with a 75-yard touchdown catch in the third quarter.

“I feel Tyshon [King] did a nice job, a true freshman out there. He’s a little bit nicked still, but he almost willed us to a win,” Nystrom said. “He did a fantastic job running the ball.”

Although it was a disappointing game for the Wildcats, they have a new opportunity this weekend to make a statement when host the 17th ranked Grand Valley State University (GVSU) Lakers. GVSU is 5-1 on the season, with its only loss coming on Oct. 5 against Ashland University (AU) 20-17 on a last second touchdown pass. Nystrom said that this is a transition year for them in some spots, but the challenge hasn’t changed one bit.

“It’s Grand Valley, I expect what I always expect from them. They’re going through a little transition at quarterback, but it’s still Grand Valley and they still have elite players,” Nystrom said. “They always have great personnel there, so offensively they’ll keep us busy, and we’re going to have to do a good job with the run game and not give up the big plays.” 

It has been tough sledding thus far for the ’Cats, but this weekend presents another chance to pull off a big win for the program. The Lakers come in averaging 27.1 points per game, so the Northern defense has a big target on its back. Even with the negatives that a 1-5 season brings, there are still positives awaiting this 2019 team.

“It’s fun, we have fun with our players. The games are frustrating that we don’t win but there are things to build on, there are things to feel good about,” Nystrom said. “You have to fix the things that let you down, and you keep progressing with what is good.”

The ranked Lakers and Wildcats will kick off at 1 p.m. in the Superior Dome on Saturday, Oct. 19.