Phillipe Smith Leads 'Cats To Road Win

Phillipe Smith
Phillipe Smith

TIFFIN, Ohio – The road which has not been a friendly place for the Northern Michigan University football team over the past couple of years changed that thinking today with a convincing win over the Tiffin Dragons.  NMU leading 27-14 at the half scored 16 unanswered second half point to take the game 43-14.

The Wildcats improve to 5-4 overall on the season and 5-3 in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC).  Tiffin falls to 1-8 and 0-8 GLIAC.

Eddie Knoblock put the 'Cats on the board first with a 52-yard interception return for a touchdown at 11:51 of the first quarter.  The extra point kick was good and NMU had the 7-0 lead.  About three minutes later (8:54), John Privitelli scored on a 10-yard run and with the good kick NMU was leading 14-0.  Rockne Belmonte capped off the scoring in the first quarter with a 32-yard field goal for a 17-0 lead at 2:25.

The second quarter saw Brendton Williams put the Dragons on the scoreboard when he returned a blocked punt for a 12-yard touchdown (10:35) for a 17-7 score with the good extra point.  Belmonte added a 33-yard field goal at 2:29 for a 20-7 score. Tiffin added a touchdown with a little over two minutes left in the quarter when David Singleton caught a 55-yard pass from Jason Young and with the good extra point had the score to 20-14.  Right before the half Phillipe Smith's number was called for a one-yard burst for a score (27-14) and good extra point with 14 ticks left on the clock.

In the third quarter the 'Cats scored two rushing touchdowns to extend its lead.  Privitelli scored his second touchdown of the day on a 12-yard burst (12:17) as the extra point failed.  With NMU leading 33-14, Jared Buss took it in for a four-yard touchdown at 6:29.  Belmonte's kick was good as the 'Cats were now leading 40-14.

Belmonte kicked his third field goal of the game in the fourth quarter.  He connected for a 24-yard boot at 9:51 for the final score of the day (43-14).

NMU recorded 385 yards of total offense on the day.  On the ground the 'Cats turned out 327 yards and 58 yards passing.  The Dragons accounted for 128 yards of total offense (-53 yards rushing and 181 yards passing).  The 'Cats were seven-of-eight in the red zone scores. 

Smith led the 'Cats wit a career day of 175 yards on 26 carries.  Privitelli ended the game with 105 yards on 20 carries.  In the passing department, Jacob Hicks was 3-7-0 for 58 yards.  Dustin Brancheau had two of the three catches.

DJ Oke led the 'Cats with eight total tackles, all solo.  Robert Edmonds recorded six total tackles (five solo and one assisted), he also had a sacks and two tackles-for-loss.  Knoblock ended the game with three interceptions. 

The 'Cats come next week for the home finale against Saginaw Valley State.  Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. Nov. 6.