TIFFIN, Ohio -- Northern Michigan scored on their opening drive for the fourth-straight game, scoring on their fifth play against Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletics Conference foe Tiffin University. The Wildcats also scored twice in the third quarter but it wouldn't be enough as NMU fell to the Dragons 35-24 Saturday.
Northern Michigan was led by junior Jake Mayon (Plainfield, Ill./Plainfield East) who posted his third 200-yard game of the season. Mayon finished with 219 yards on 22 carries, averaging 10-yards a carry, and posted two touchdowns.
Sophomore Ryan Knight (Grand Rapids, Mich./Forest Hills Eastern) finished with five catches for 62 yards and a touchdown while redshirt freshman Ravon Johnson (Willowbrook, Ill./Hinsdale South) added four catches for 86 yards.
Defensively, sophomore Austin Potter (Warren, Mich./De La Salle) led the way with 14 tackles, including 11 solo tackles. Seniors Darryl Williams (Cooper City, Fla./St. Thomas Aquinas) and Pat Ryan (Linden, Mich.) added 11 tackles each. Williams included two tackles for loss on the afternoon.
On the team's opening drive, the Wildcats marched down the field, fueled by a 35-yard gain by Mayon, to the Tiffin 19-yard line. On the team's fifth play, freshman quarterback Ryan Johnson (De Pere, Wisc./Ashwaubenon) hit Knight for a 19-yard touchdown catch to give NMU a 7-0 lead after freshman kicker Dalton Ray (Clemont, Fla./Lake Menneola) knocked in the extra point.
The Dragons responded with an 11-play drive down the field and tied the game with a touchdown. The teams then exchanged possessions to end the first quarter tied 7-7.
With 5:36 left in the second, Tiffin found the end zone again but missed the extra point to take a 13-7 lead. NMU would take over again with 2:22 left before halftime behind senior quarterback Jaranta Lewis (Weston, Fla./Cypress Bay). The Wildcats got the ball down to the Tiffin five-yard line but ran out of time and were unable to come away with points before the break.
The Dragons opened the third quarter by adding another touchdown and a two-point conversion to go up 21-7. This time, NMU responded with an eight-play, 79-yard drive that featured zero passing plays behind Mayon and freshman Deandre Caldwell (Kankakee, Ill.) rushing down the field. Mayon ended up capping the drive with his first touchdown of the afternoon. After Ray's extra point, NMU was down 21-14 with 7:30 left in the third quarter.
The Wildcats forced a three-and-out for Tiffin and took over with 5:23 remaining in the third. Starting at the NMU 38-yard line, Mayon rushed for 39-yards to help get the Wildcats to the Tiffin 23. An incomplete pass was followed by Mayon's 23-yard scamper into the end zone to tie the game at 21-21 after another Ray extra point.
However, Tiffin eventually re-took the lead on just the second play of the fourth quarter to go back up 28-21.
NMU were then forced to go 99-yards, eventually getting down to the Tiffin five-yard line, but were forced to settle for a field goal to narrow the gap 28-24 with 11:32 remaining in the game.
The Dragons increased the lead with 5:46 left with another touchdown to move to a 35-24 lead.
The Wildcats were then unable to get anything going in the final minutes and ended up falling 35-24.
Northern Michigan will look now look to bounce back as they face Saginaw Valley State University next Saturday in the Superior Dome on Band Day.