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Tuesday June 25, 2024
NMU Wildcats Lose Big Lead; Drop Home Opener

MARQUETTE---The Northern Michigan University football team couldn't hold a 21-7 lead in the fourth quarter and lost a heartbreaker in its home opener on Saturday to Lake Erie Colege, 24-21, at the Superior Dome. The 'Cats are now 0-2 on the season.

"Up 21-7, I think it was a classic case of becoming very complacent," NMU Coach Shane Richardson told RRN's Casey Ford after the game. "As a young football team, a team that needs to know how to win, we just couldn't finish it out. I think we kind of sat back at that point, and I think the offense had a tougher time moving the ball. There were some details offensively that we looked at that were not characteristic of how we want to play."

The following game recap is courtesy of NMU Sports Information. Click the AUDIO buttons to hear RRN interviews with former Wildcat Matt Forward and Coach Shane Richardson.

The two sides had a similar output on offense, with Lake Erie managing 367 yards to NMU's 345. After a 242-94 edge in the first half, NMU only managed 103 yards in the second half to Lake Erie's 273. 

It was a slow start for each side, but Northern pushed across the first points of the afternoon on their second drive. After a 33-yard pass over the middle to KJ King moved the Wildcats into opponent territory, Mariano Valenti scrambled for 10 yards to cap off a 11-play, 80-yard drive to go ahead 7-0 with 6:15 to go in the first. 

The Wildcats would add to that lead early in the second quarter, with Brock Franklin punching in a 3-yard scamper up the middle. NMU nailed the extra point to go ahead 14-0. 

After the two sides exchanged turnover on downs in the middle of the second quarter, Lake Erie pushed the ball down the field and running back Corey Polk got them on the board on a 4th and 1 carry, finishing off a 12-play, 66-yard drive to pull within a score. 

NMU pushed the ball into the redzone as the second half was winding down, but a fumble from Valenti kept the score at 14-7 heading into the break. NMU led in first downs in the opening half, 17-6. 

On the first play from scrimmage in the second half, Jax Hertel picked off a pass and ran it in 10 yards for the pick-six to jump ahead 21-7. 

From there, the Wildcat offense stalled. Neither side could manage much of a drive throughout the rest of the third quarter, leading to a 21-7 score heading into the final 15 minutes. 

The fourth quarter is where the Storm surged. Corey Polk punched in his second score of the day, another from 1-yard out, early in the final quarter to pull within 21-14. NMU drove the ball on the following possession, but a missed FG from 49-yards was followed by an Erie FG from 27-yards to make the score 21-17 with just under five minutes remaining. 

The Wildcats were unable to take significant time off the clock, going 3-and-out to give Lake Erie a chance to complete the comeback. The Storm completed a 29-yard pass and followed it up with several chunk played. Polk once again capped off the drive with a score, his third of the game, to go ahead 24-21 with 46 seconds left. 

Stat Leaders
  • Mariano Valenti threw for 156 yards on 15-34 while LEC's Xeavier Bullock went 21-36 for 265 air yards. 
  • Tyquan Cox managed 120 yards on the ground behind 23 carries (5.2 ypc)
  • Mitch Larkin led the 'Cats with nine tackles.

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