Homecoming victory for the Cats

Northern Michigan Downs Hillsdale, 32-24

[NORTHERN MICHIGAN UNIVERSITY] MARQUETTE, Mich. — The Northern Michigan football team downed Hillsdale, 32-24, on Homecoming to earn its first Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference victory of the season Saturday afternoon at the Superior Dome in front of 4,289 fans.

The Chargers reached the red zone twice in the fourth quarter, but each time a Wildcat, first Darryl Williams and then Brandon Auguste, picked off a CJ Mifsud pass in the end zone to preserve the Wildcat lead.

“Our players executed today,” head coach Chris Ostrowsky said. “They played hard, they played physical, and I’m proud of them and how they finished.”

On the game’s opening drive, after Shaye Brown connected with Marcus Tucker for a 47-yard gain to set the Wildcats up on the Charger one-yard line, Aaron Harris hammered his way into the back of the end zone to put them ahead, 7-0. By the end of the first quarter, the Wildcats had extended their lead to 13-0 on the strength of two Ryan LaBerge field goals.

Northern Michigan opened the second quarter by marching all the way to the Charger seven-yard line, bolstered by a 31-yard catch by Keyondre Craig. But, once again, the Wildcats had to settle for a field goal, giving them a 16-0 lead.

The Chargers regrouped and found the end zone twice in 20 seconds. After Bennett Lewis rushed for a nine-yard score, Hillsdale got the ball back right away because of a Tucker fumble on the kickoff. Mifsud then connected with Kegan Smith for an 11-yard touchdown to cut the Wildcat lead to 16-14.

Northern Michigan regained the momentum after Brown sent a long ball to Trey Hipke for a 44-yard touchdown on its very next possession. The Chargers then scored a field goal with no time left on the clock in the half to send the Wildcats to the locker room with a 22-17 lead.

The Chargers opened the third quarter by taking their first lead of the game after Lewis broke free for a 27-yard touchdown. Northern Michigan retook the lead for good on its last drive of the third quarter, with Harris capping an 85-yard march down the field with a one-yard touchdown rush.

LaBerge capped the scoring with a 31-yard field goal with 2:37 left on the clock in the game.

The Wildcats outgained the Chargers, 498-401. Brown threw for 323 yards while Harris rushed for 170. A trio of Wildcats receivers broke the 50-yard mark: Craig (103), Hipke (86) and Tucker (77).

Defensively, Northern Michigan was led by LJ Liston, who totaled 17 tackles, and Julian Hornback, who recorded 10. Dante Holmes and Austin McCarthy each posted a sack in the game.

With the win, the Wildcats improve to 2-1 (1-1 GLIAC). The Chargers fall to 1-2 (1-2 GLIAC). Northern Michigan returns to the field Sept. 26 when it travels to Houghton, Mich. to face rival Michigan Tech at 7 p.m.

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