LEBANON, Ill. – Northern Michigan University Football opened the 2018 season on the road but despite 17 fourth quarter points, the Wildcats were unable to capture the road victory.
Senior Jake Mayon (Plainfield, Ill./Plainfield East) led the NMU offense with 173 yards on 27 carries and one touchdown. Redshirt freshman Latrell Giles (Chicago, Ill./Leo Catholic) added 97 yards on the ground on 14 carries and also found the end zone.
Giles also helped the offense through the air with 176 yards and a touchdown, finishing 10 of 18 on the day.
Receiver Benjamin Loutsis (Aurora, Ill./Metea Valley) finished the day with 117 yards and a touchdown on five catches with junior Ryan Knight (Grand Rapids, Mich./Forest Hills Eastern) chipping in with 40 yards and a touchdown.
Defensively, juniors Deantae Young (Clinton Township, Mich./Chippewa Valley) and Troy Mayon (Plainfield, Ill./Plainfield East) posted eight total tackles. Mayon also notched a fumble recovery. Senior Terrell Johnson (Maywood, Ill./Montini Catholic) contributed seven tackles.
Jake Mayon capped a 12 play, 90-yard drive with a four-yard TD plunge to put NMU ahead with 2:32 left in the first quarter. Freshman kicker Daniel Riser (Ada, Michigan / Forest Hills Central) added the extra point and NMU was leading 7-0 at the end of the first quarter.
McKendree University answered with a second quarter touchdown to tie and sent the game into the break 7-7.
In the third quarter, the Bearcats added a field goal at the 6:14 mark, but then scored on an eight-yard touchdown pass to make it 17-7 to enter the fourth quarter.
The final frame started with Giles finding Loutsis for a 66-yard touchdown pass, which Riser capped with the extra point to make it 17-14 just nine seconds into the quarter. However, the hosts answered with a touchdown of their own to make it 24-14 nearly two minutes later.
On the next Wildcat drive, NMU went on a 12 play, 75-yard drive, in which 65 yards came on the ground from either Giles or Mayon, and after the Riser PAT moved the score 24-21with 6:43 on the clock.
McKendree rebounded and scored on the ensuing drive and pushed their lead back to 31-21, then added a field goal with 57 seconds left to make it 34-21.
On the final drive of the game, redshirt freshman Kole Stealy (Cooper City, Fla./Chaminade-Madonna) hit Knight for 18 yards, then ran for 12 yards before hitting sophomore Ravon Johnson (Willowbrook, Ill. / Hinsdale South) for a 21-yard gain. With four seconds remaining, Stealy found Knight for a 17-yard touchdown and made the final score 34-28 but the Bearcats were on top.
The Wildcats fall to 0-1 on the season and will look to rebound in their home opener next Saturday against University of Texas of the Permian Basin.