Earning a win: Northern Michigan University football team holds on for 13-10 victory over Wisconsin-Oshkosh | News, Sports, Jobs

Wisconsin-Oshkosh’s DJ Stewart kicks off as he is chased by Northern Michigan University’s Tyquan Cox hot on his heels and Wildcats’ Darryl Obasuyi, left, during their football game played at the Superior Dome in Marquette on Saturday. (Newspaper photo by Travis Nelson)

MARQUETTE – It wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t flashy, but it was a win.

It was a victory the Northern Michigan University football team badly needed, and the Wildcats got it in the form of a 13-10 win over NCAA Division III Wisconsin-Oshkosh on Saturday after- midday.

Last season, the Titans stormed into the Superior Dome and beat NMU 28-10. This time around the Wildcats were the better team, and it showed in a small sample how the North program is improving.

NMU (1-1) showed what they can do on the field when running back Tyshon King is healthy. He rushed for 89 of the Wildcats’ 149 yards rushing while he averaged over five yards per carry and the team over four yards per touch.

The Wildcats beat Oshkosh 386-331, with NMU junior quarterback Drake Davis completing 19 of 23 passes — an 83% completion rate — for 194 yards and no interceptions. Teammate Zach Keen completed his only pass attempt

for 43 yards and a touchdown.

Northern Michigan University’s Justin Peake, right, tackles Wisconsin-Oshkosh’s Clayton Schwalbe as the Wildcats’ Kobie Jamison converges on the play during their football game played at the Superior Dome in Marquette on Saturday. (Newspaper photo by Travis Nelson)

Northern’s defense intensified on numerous occasions, including big plays at opposite ends of the game – stuffing Oshkosh running back Peter MacCudden 4th and 1st on the NMU 5-yard line in the first practice from the Titans, and getting a game sealer interception from cornerback Isaiah Morrison with 1:35 left.

The Wildcats’ complementary football didn’t put too many points on the board, but it was enough to bring their record down to .500. Although played indoors and not in the mud, it was a game played with a bit of sloppiness at the start of the season.

But it was also a game that head coach Kyle Nystrom’s group had to have.

“I’m just very happy for our players and I’m proud of them” said Nystrom. “There was a lot of adversity there, we tried to fight here and there, but we got through it and managed to find a way out and get a win against a team that gave us a hard time. really amazed last year.

“That game (last year) was probably the lowest point of my career, and it’s been a long time.”

Northern Michigan University’s Kenyon’TA Skinner runs for yardage after receiving a pass as Wisconsin-Oshkosh’s Carson Raddatz falls trying to make the tackle during their football game played at the Superior Dome in Marquette on Saturday. (Newspaper photo by Travis Nelson)

This time around, NMU took possession of the ball first and went down inside Oshkosh’s 30-yard line with a balanced offensive attack. Practice stalled when the Cats fell behind and only got a one-yard run from Davis on first down when a passing play failed. Daniel Riser came on and drilled a 50-yard field goal, making it 3-0.

The Titans were determined on offense as well, and quarterback Kobe Berghammer started a great day throwing and running the football as he finished with a total of 283 all-purpose yards.

After going for fourth down in midfield and getting the first down, Oshkosh’s luck ran out at NMU 5 when Berghammer was stuffed on fourth down. A journey of more than seven minutes gave no points.

Then the Oshkosh defense forced an NMU punt, giving them the ball back in midfield. Berghammer couldn’t take advantage, missing a wide open tight end Jimmy Duval in the middle, and a deep third pass to the end zone to widen Trae Tetzlaff was knocked down by Wildcat safety DJ Hutcherson.

However, the Titans kept the ball after a 15-yard personal foul was called on NMU during the punt. Penalties, which were a big deal for the ‘Cats nine days earlier in Game 1 when they had 12 for 105 yards, weren’t cleared in this game as they were called for another 11 for 104 yards.

Oshkosh had all the momentum after the penalty, but the NMU defense limited the UWO to a field goal try. Kicking haunted the Titans in this close game as Nolan Mobley’s 27-yard attempt was no good.

That quickly restored momentum for the Wildcats, and they built on it with a 26-yard run from Tyquan Cox to start the run. Davis had to go out for one play due to injury, and quarterback Zach Keen capitalized on his opportunity with a 43-yard strike off receiver Kenyon’TA Skinner. With Riser’s extra kick, NMU led 10-0 with 9:06 remaining.

“What is everyone waiting for? Oh it’s a backup, they don’t throw away,” said Nystrom. “Zach has played a lot of football here for the past three years, he’s started and won a few games for us.

“In my mind, Zach is not a (No.) 2, he’s just another one of our quarterbacks. I’m not worried about him going deep at all.

The Titans responded with a long drive after catches by Tetzlaff and Tony Steger to move the chains. Berghammer led the attack inside the 10, but the NMU defense again left the field when cornerback Bo Bell interrupted a third pass and a goal to Tetzlaff. Mobley would make that short field goal at 21 yards, cutting the Wildcats lead to 10-3.

Oshkosh’s second drive in the second half was more successful thanks to a short field after an off-NMU punt, and Berghammer found Steger in the back corner of the end zone for their only TD of the day. Mobley’s extra point tied the score 10-10 midway through the third.

The Wildcats restarted their attack on their next possession, holding the ball until the final period. Davis used his legs to pick up a few yards, and the ‘Cats got passing gains from Skinner and Marquette Senior High School graduate wide receiver Kam Karp.

With penalties pushing the Wildcats back to 3rd and 19th, their biggest play of the game probably came when Davis came out and found Cox on the field for a whopping 46-yard catch.

Nonetheless, the drive stalled early in the fourth quarter, though Riser fired a 25-yard field goal to put NMU ahead 30 seconds into the final period.

Credit went to the Wildcats defense on Oshkosh’s ensuing drive as he stopped the Titans and Mobley missed another 27-year-old goal, this one to tie the game.

“We persevered through a lot of tough times, I’m not going to lie to you or the people there,” said Nystrom. “We had a lot of difficulties to cross and to prepare. Personnel issues, some player issues, but mostly program issues.

“You just figured out a way to get better that day and get to tomorrow, and we did. All the misery it creates just for this short time is worth it, we loved what happened today.

The Wildcats look to build on the win with a road trip Saturday to take on GLIAC foe Davenport in a non-conference matchup. These two teams will meet later in the season at the Superior Dome for their league game.

Travis Nelson can be reached by email at [email protected]

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