MARQUETTE, Mich. – Northern Michigan University Football rushed for 337 yards on their way to a 27-22 victory over the University of Texas of the Permian Basin Saturday afternoon.
Senior Jake Mayon (Plainfield, Ill./Plainfield East) led the team with 224 yards on 35 carries, and scored a fourth quarter touchdown. Sophomore Deandre Caldwell (Kankakee, Ill.) added 86 yards and scored the first NMU touchdown in the Superior Dome this season.
Sophomore quarterback Latrell Giles (Chicago, Ill./Leo Catholic) chipped in with 37 yards on the ground and also threw for 117 yards, completing eight passes on 12 attempts. He also found redshirt freshman Benjamin Loutsis (Aurora, Ill./Metea Valley) for a touchdown.
Loutsis led the NMU receivers with 55 yards and three receptions.
Defensively, Jacob Dudeck (Manhatten, Ill./Lincoln Way West) led the way with seven tackles, including a half-sack. Senior Abram Cook (Surprise, Ariz./Valley Vista) also added a half-sack while Logan McHone (Pleasanton, Calif./Valley Christian) reached the QB for a sack. As a team, the Wildcats totaled six tackles for a loss.
Senior Jalen Saunders (Auburn Hills, Mich./Avondale) and sophomore Brady Hanson (Kewaskum, Wis.) posted two pass breakups. Senior Nick Barnes (Chicago, Ill./Hales Franciscan) aided the defense by blocking a field goal.
On the opening drive, Giles rushed for six yards, then Mayon ran for 36 yards on two carries before Caldwell took the fourth play of the game 23-yards for an opening TD less than two minutes into the game.
After forcing an UTPB three and out, Mayon rushed for 57 yards and Giles found redshirt freshman Connor Bruinius (Grand Rapids, Mich./Forest Hills Northern) for 13 yards to get NMU to the one-yard line. Freshman kicker Daniel Riser (Ada, Mich./Forest Hills Central) chipped in the field goal to move NMU ahead 10-0 with four minutes to go in the first half.
The visiting Falcons found the end zone on their next drive to make it 10-7 early in the second quarter. The next two NMU drives stalled but on the last drive of the half, Giles rushed for 32 yards and Mayon added 25 yards to get the Wildcats to the UTPB 15-yard line when Giles found Loutsis in the end zone. After the Riser PAT, NMU went into halftime with a 17-7 lead.
The Wildcat defense opened the second half with another three and out, and the offense took advantage with another Riser field goal, this time from 21-yards out. Giles found sophomore tight end Mitch Heaton (Clarkston, Mich.) for an 11-yard gain, then Mayon and Caldwell combined to rush for 56 yards on the drive.
The guests responded with a field goal and made it 20-10 with 5:09 left to play in the third quarter. Both teams were then forced to punt until NMU took over with 11:37 to play. Mayon started the drive with a two-yard gain, but NMU had a false start to make it 2nd and 13. Giles then was sacked to bring up 3rd and 19. Giles answered by running for a 32-yard gain, but a holding call brought the ball back to make it 3rd and 23 from the NMU 19-yard line.
The added distant didn't stop the Wildcat offense as Giles hit Loutsis for a 25-yard gain to make it 1st and 10 from the NMU 44-yard line. Mayon took the next play for nine yards, then ran for two yards to bring up 3rd and 1 from the UTPB 45-yard line.
On the next play, Giles again found Loutsis, this time for 15 yards to give NMU another first down. After Giles and Caldwell rushed for three yards each, Mayon brushed off UTPB defenders and carried it 24-yards for the touchdown and Riser's kick made it 27-16 with 4:50 to play.
The Falcons were able to pass their way down the field and eventually crossed the goal line, but the NMU defense stopped the two-point conversion and the score was 27-22 with 2:21 to play.
On the final drive, NMU took over from their 48-yard line and Mayon carried for 18 yards on the first two plays. After a three-yard loss forced a 3rd and 7, Giles found sophomore receiver Ravon Johnson (Willowbrook, Ill./Hinsdale South) for 30-yards and sealed the NMU victory.
With the win, the Wildcats move to 1-1 on the season. They will look to make it two straight wins inside the Dome as they open Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference play next Saturday, hosting #8 Grand Valley State University.