October 23, 2013

NMU Football Hosts Wayne State

MARQUETTE, Mich. – The Northern Michigan University football team returns to the Superior Dome Saturday (Oct. 26) for a Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference North Division meeting with the Wayne State Warriors. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m.  As part of the game-day festivities, Northern will be celebrating Family Weekend and Band Day.  Events around the game include performances by 13 high school bands, along with bounce houses and cookie decorating for young Wildcat fans.

NMU is 1-5 overall and in GLIAC play while Wayne State is 3-4 overall and 3-3 in the conference.  Both teams are coming off of losses last week (Oct. 19).  NMU bowed to Grand Valley State 48-17 in a wild weather contest in Allendale while Wayne State fell to Saginaw Valley State 14-10 at home. 

Northern is averaging 21.5 points per game and 355.3 yards of total offense on 221.3 passing and 134 rushing. WSU is averaging 24.9 points a game and 343.4 yards of total offense with 157.4 on passing and 186 on rushing. The Wildcats' victory came against Findlay in the first game of the year after which the team has lost five contests (Ohio Dominican, Ashland, Hillsdale, Michigan Tech and GVSU). Wayne's three wins have been against Ashland, Malone and Northwood. The week before the SVSU loss, the Warriors fell to Hillsdale. Their other loss came against Lake Erie.

The two teams have met 27 times with the Wildcats leading the series 15-12, the last NMU win coming in 2009 at home.  However, the Northern-Wayne State games have a tendency to be epic battles with eight of the last 10 meetings being determined by eight or fewer points.

Last season, NMU fell to Wayne State by just one touchdown, 38-31, in Detroit. The Wildcats were down 31-10 at the end of the third quarter before going on to score the next three touchdowns to tie the game at 31. The comeback wasn't enough, as WSU scored with 1:16 remaining in the game. NMU's Casey Cotta had two touchdowns, while Cody Scepaniak and Christian Jessie also scored. Matt Smith had an interception for the Wildcats.

Jessie looks to repeat in the scoring department against WSU. The senior holds seven NMU records for kickoff returns, including one for 97 yards against Hillsdale earlier this year.  In 2012, he had a 99-yard touchdown kickoff return vs. Ferris State.  Jessie holds the record for most career returns (75), career return yardage (1,975), most returns in a season (37 in 2012), most return yards in a season (1,059 in 2012), most returns in a game (7 at Ashland in 2013), most return yards in a game (179 at Ashland) and longest return (99 vs. Ferris in 2012).

Last Saturday against GVSU, freshman Shaye Brown made his collegiate debut at quarterback, throwing to junior Marcus Tucker for one of NMU's two touchdowns.  Brown went 14 for 22. John Oberheide had a 28-yard field goal and the other touchdown came on a blocked punt recovered by freshman Connor Schrader for the score.

Also among the offensive leaders is sophomore Wyatt Jurasin, who is averaging 40.3 rushing yards in six games and has one touchdown. Tucker (74.2), Jessie (63.8) and freshman Keyondre Craig (36.2) are averaging more than 35 yards receiving per game. Tucker has three touchdowns and Craig has two. NMU totals three interceptions, along with forcing and recovering five fumbles.

On defense, junior Nick Krause has 42 total tackles while sophomores Thomas McNamara and Levi Perry each have 39. Redshirt freshman Adam Williams (31) and junior Kyle Polk (30) also have hit the 30-tackle level. Williams has six tackles-for-loss and four sacks and Polk has 5.5 tackles-for-loss.

NMU's last home game is Nov. 2 against Northwood. The Wildcats close the year on the road versus Saginaw Valley State (Nov. 9) and Ferris State (Nov. 16).

100.3 FM "The Point" carries all NMU football games. Ryan Beckman brings you the play-by-play all season. The Point also hosts the weekly NMU Coaches' Show on Mondays from 6-8 p.m. at Vango's. Eagle Radio also broadcasts all football games on Eagle 95.1 in Sault Ste. Marie and Straits Country 95.3 in St. Ignace, Cheboygan, Petoskey and Gaylord.

During Saturday's game, fans will have the opportunity to participate in a candy-guessing contest as a fundraiser for the NMU track and field team. The cost is $1 for one guess or $2 for three guesses. Bounce houses will be available for free with a game ticket. Young Wildcat Club members may also participate in cookie decorating in the east end zone. Additionally, t-shirts will be sold by NMU student-athletes for their local Make-A-Wish project.

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