Northern Michigan University football team bulldozed at Ferris State, 78-3

Northern Michigan University’s Brock Franklin, center, looks for daylight before several Wisconsin-La Crosse tacklers converge during their college football game played at the Superior Dome in Marquette on Sept. 16. (Photo courtesy Cara Kamps)

BIG RAPIDS — The Northern Michigan University football team found itself in an unenviable position on Saturday afternoon playing at Ferris State.

The winless Wildcats not only had to take on the No. 1 team in NCAA Division II, but the Bulldogs were coming off a loss in their most recent game to Division I FCS team Montana, 17-10.

Ferris might’ve taken out its frustrations on NMU, and there wasn’t much the visitors from the Upper Peninsula could do to stop it as the Bulldogs rolled to a 78-3 victory in both teams’ GLIAC opener.

Several Northern records were set, tied or nearly set, all having to do with opponents’ scoring and yardage.

The 78 points tied the most ever given up by a Wildcats team, matching the number allowed to Central State (Ohio) in a 1989 game that had a score of 78-0, according to the Northern Michigan Football Records pages found at the NMU athletics website, nmuwildcats.com. The records are listed as last being updated in May 2022.

Northern Michigan University quarterback Zach Keen, right, goes over a play with the Wildcats' offense in the second quarter of a GLIAC game played against Ferris State at the Superior Dome in Marquette on Oct. 29, 2022. (Photo courtesy Daryl T. Jarvinen)

Ferris’ 497 yards rushing set an NMU opponent record that had been at 449 against Grand Valley State in 2016, while a record was tied for opponents’ most first downs rushing in a game with 24.

The Bulldogs’ 705 total yards missed that opponent record by 36 yards, while the total first downs of 33 missed that all-time mark by five.

NMU’s only points came with 62 seconds remaining in the first half and Ferris already leading 48-0 when Wildcats kicker Michael Karlen booted a 42-yard field goal that culminated a 12-play, 48-yard drive.

That was a significant amount of yardage as Northern (0-5) totaled just 98 yards offense all day, though the Wildcats were also aided by 15 Bulldogs’ penalties that added up to 160 yards. NMU, already one of the least penalized teams in Division II, was called for just one penalty of five yards.

Ferris, in winning its 12th straight game against the Wildcats, jumped out to a quick lead. Despite Northern taking the opening kickoff, the Bulldogs (3-1) had already established a 13-0 lead barely 3 1/2 minutes in.

NMU punted after completing one of three passes on its opening possession, while FSU needed just three plays to score when quarterback Mylik Mitchell ran it in from 15 yards out 2:16 in. It was 6-0 as the extra-point try failed.

After another Northern possession that actually included a first down, Wildcats punter Owen Halverson’s punt was partially blocked and only went three yards.

Ferris was just 35 yards from paydirt and needed only a single play, a Mitchell 35-yard pass to Xavier Wade, to make it 13-0.

The scoring drives just kept coming in waves as the Bulldogs added two more TDs by the end of the first quarter to make it 27-0. They added another pair in the first 4 1/2 minutes of quarter No. 2 to go up 41-0.

After another Ferris TD got it to 48-0, NMU took over with 5:06 left in the first half. Aided by a pair of Ferris penalties for 20 yards, the Wildcats marched from their own 27-yard line to the FSU 25 and went for a fairly lengthy field goal on 4th-and-2. Karlen’s good kick from 42 yards averted the shutout.

Even though there was only a shade over a minute left in the first half when Northern scored, the Bulldogs mounted yet one more scoring drive, marching 82 yards in 45 seconds to make it 55-3 at intermission. The big play was a 68-yard TD run by Trinidad Chambliss.

Though the scoring pace slowed considerably in the second half, Ferris actually scored twice before it even had the ball for the second time in the third quarter.

FSU took the second-half kickoff and marched 54 yards in less than three minutes to make it 62-3, and then when Northern got the ball back, an apparent bad snap on 4th-and-9 from its own 26 ended up as a safety when the play-by-play listed it as a “kneel down by Northern Mich. … for loss of 26 yards” and that took it to 64-3.

Ferris got one more TD before the quarter ended, then got its final score in the last three minutes with substitute QB Trent Hill scoring from 2 yards out.

NMU’s 98 yards included an 11-of-28 passing day for 67 yards by starting QB Mariano Valenti as he was intercepted twice. Jake Bilitz and Aidan Hoard each completed a pass totaling another 17 yards. Northern’s Tyquan Cox caught a pass for 21 yards, while teammates KJ King and Charlie Gerhard each had two receptions for 17 yards.

On the ground, Cox gained 27 yards in 14 attempts, while Noah Hofmann had 24 yards in five carries and Brock Franklin 23 yards in three tries.

Defensively, Northern’s Jason Coulter had a forced fumble and a tackle for a 13-yard loss, while teammate Javion Davis had a pass breakup. Kade Manzo led NMU with 10 total tackles as Mitch Larkin had nine.

Ferris starting QB Mitchell was just 6 of 7 through the air but attained 139 yards with two TDs and no pickoffs. Three other throwers combined to complete 9 of 15 for 69 yards, a TD and no interceptions. Wade had three receptions for 78 yards and three TDs, while Tyrese Hunt-Thompson had four catches for 44 yards.

In the rushing department, the Bulldogs had 14 players carry the ball, led by Chambliss gaining 125 yards in just five attempts that included two TDs.

NMU completes its three-week road odyssey with its second GLIAC game of the season in Grand Rapids against Davenport at 2 p.m. Saturday.

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


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