Northern Michigan University Wildcats look for 1st football win in Illinois today

Northern Michigan University quarterback Jake Bilitz, center, gains several yards on a keeper before he is tackled by Wisconsin-La Crosse’s Pat Wade, second from left, during their college football game played at the Superior Dome in Marquette last Saturday. (Photo courtesy Cara Kamps)

MARQUETTE — The Northern Michigan University football team will try to stop its slow start under first-year head coach Shane Richardson when the Wildcats travel to Quincy, Illinois, to take on Quincy University at 2 p.m. EDT today.

NMU is 0-3 after suffering a 34-3 home loss to NCAA Division III nationally ranked Wisconsin-La Crosse last Saturday for Homecoming. Among Northern’s other two losses was a narrow 24-21 setback at home to Lake Erie College on Sept. 9.

Today’s game is the final nonconference encounter the Wildcats have before starting the GLIAC season with six straight league games. NMU also completes the season with a nonconference game against Northern State on Nov. 11.

Fans can follow these Wildcats @NMU_Football and @NMU_Wildcats on X (formerly Twitter) for updates before and during games.

The game is scheduled to be broadcast on radio station WUPT 100.3 FM The Point. Live statistics are available at a link on the NMU athletics website at nmuwildcats.com and going to the football team schedule, and audio from the game is also available online at https://streamdb6web.securenetsystems.net/cirrusencore/index.cfm?stationCallSign=WGLQ&utm_medium=sidearm-email&utm_source=nmuwildcats.com&utm_campaign=Wildcat+Football+Hits+the+Road+to+Take+on+Hawks&utm_content=177b22ea-d6a8-4dca-98f9-1f1780b346c5.

Last week, NMU didn’t produce in the red zone, not scoring on either of its chances inside the UWL 20-yard line but getting a 44-yard field goal by Michael Karlen with one second remaining in the first half. Meanwhile, the Eagles were a perfect 6 for 6 in the red zone that accounted for all 34 of their points.

In addition, La Crosse held close to 2-to-1 advantages in total yards (429-200), first downs (23-12) and time of possession (39:45-20:15).

But the Wildcats are doing a few things well. NMU is tied for eighth in Division II for fewest penalties, an average of exactly four per game, and are fifth in penalty yards per game with 30.

Northern’s Tyquan Cox is fourth in the GLIAC with 66.0 rushing yards per game, while Mitch Larkin leads the NMU defense with 30 tackle, including a career-high 15 vs. La Crosse.

But the Wildcats average just 270 yards per game on offense, ranking 135th of 161 D-II teams, and 134.3 yards per game passing, ranking 145th.

Last week, starting quarterback Mariano Valenti, a Division I transfer from Temple, was out due to injury. Stepping up for him was Jake Bilitz and Aidan Hoard. In his first career start, Bilitz was 9 of 14 for 42 yards, while Hoard, who came in for the last-gasp drive throwing the ball often, was 3 of 7 for 32 yards. Neither had an interception.

Today’s opponent, Quincy, is 2-1 after three home games that include a 35-34 loss to Chadron State, an 89-0 win over NAIA suburban Detroit school Madonna and 49-0 victory over Florida institution Fort Lauderdale of the National Christian College Athletic Association.

In an interesting twist, former Wildcats QB Drake Davis piloted Quincy last week against Fort Lauderdale, throwing for 226 yards and three touchdowns and adding another 50 yards rushing and one TD that way. Last year, Davis accounted for more than 1,000 yards of offense in just seven games with the Wildcats.

NMU has won both previous meetings with Quincy, most recently in 2015 when Northern won 31-14 by amassing 476 yards offense, including 353 through the air.

Information compiled by Journal Sports Editor Steve Brownlee. His email address is sbrownlee@miningjournal.net.


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