SAN ANGELO, Mich. -- Northern Michigan University's football team travelled to Texas to take on Angelo State University in the team's 2017 season opener.
Sophomore Ryan Knight (Grand Rapids, Mich./Forest Hills Eastern) snagged two touchdowns on six catches for 131 yards. Junior Michael Akinlade (Birmingham, England/St. Matthew Academy) also snagged a touchdown, scoring the first points of the 2017 season for the Wildcats.
Junior Jake Mayon (Plainfield, Ill./Plainfield East) rushed for 205 yards on 25 carries, averaging 8.2 yards a carry, with a long of 61 yards. Senior Jaranta Lewis (Weston, Fla./Cypress Bay) got his second career start at quarterback and finished with 159 yards and two touchdowns.
Redshirt Sophomore Latrell Giles (Chicago, Ill./Leo Catholic) stepped in during the fourth quarter and threw his first career touchdown pass.
Defensively, junior Demarious Wright (Delray Beach, Fla./Atlantic) tallied 12 tackles and two pass breakups. Senior D.J. Williams (Cooper City, Fla./St. Thomas Aquinas) added eight tackles. Sophomore Cole Van Enkenvort (Green Bay, Wisc./Bay Port) recorded a nine-yard sack as freshman John McMullen (Kankakee, Ill.) and senior Jalen Brooks (Macomb, Mich./Romeo) assisted on another sack of the Rams quarterback.
The hosts opened the game by scoring on their first possession, but NMU blocked the extra point attempt to trail 6-0 early. After going three and out on their first possession, the Wildcats punted to Angelo St., who went down and scored again to move up to a 13-0 lead after a successful two-point conversion.
On their third possession, the Wildcats marched down the field, rushing the ball to the seven yard line, behind 22 yards rushing by Lewis. After a timeout, Lewis found Akinlade in the endzone, and after freshman Dalton Ray's (Clemont, Fla./Lake Menneola) extra point, narrowed the deficit to 13-7 with 1:35 left in the first quarter.
On the second drive of the second quarter, NMU took advantage of momentum and moved the ball to the Angelo State 28 yard line but Ray's field goal attempt was blocked, which would prove costly. The Rams would go on to score two more times before the half, taking a 26-7 lead at halftime.
To start the third quarter, Lewis found Knight for an 83-yard touchdown throw and catch. An unsuccessful two-point conversion moved the score to 26-13. The ASU offense would go on to score again near the end of the third, taking their lead up to 34-14 at the end of the quarter.
The Rams once again scored to open the fourth quarter to take a 41-13 advantage and increased it with another touchdown with 4:43 left in the game. Giles then came into the game at quarterback for the Wildcats and successfully got the squad down the field behind Mayon and freshman Deandre Caldwell (Kankakee, Ill.) rushing for 64 yards on the drive. Giles then found Knight in the end zone for a 10 yard TD reception to move the score to the 48-20 final.
For the Rams, quarterback Jake Faber would finish with 396 passing yards and three touchdowns.
The Wildcats, now 0-1 on the season, will look to re-group as they return to Michigan and will travel to 3rd-ranked Ferris State University next Saturday in the team's Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletics Conference opener.