Johnson not enough to get NMU football a win

By Journal Sports Staff

MARQUETTE — Freshman quarterback Ryan Johnson threw for 363 yards in only 30 pass attempts but it wasn’t quite enough as Northern Michigan University fell 20-12 Saturday to Saginaw Valley State at the Superior Dome.

Johnson started NMU’s final drive at his own 20-yard line with 1:21 to go.

He completed passes on five consecutive plays to four receivers — Julian Crum caught two — to quickly move NMU (1-6, 1-5 GLIAC) to the Saginaw 15. Other catches were made by Ryan Knight, Ravon Johnson and Dallas Dixon.

Then on a bad snap, Johnson had to take a 14-yard loss, and after an incompletion that made it fourth-and-21, the freshman put up a last-gasp throw to the goal line that was intercepted by SVSU’s Ryan Verhelst.

Still, the 363 yards were a career high for Johnson, who completed 20 of 30 with the interception, and the most yards by a Northern QB in nearly two years. Redshirt freshman Tanner Kruzel caught four passes for 118 yards, while Knight also caught four for 106 yards and a touchdown.

But the NMU running game went nowhere. The Wildcats netted zero yards despite a 33-yard day on 18 carries for top rusher Jake Mayon. That’s because Johnson took 41 yards in losses even with a 15-yard gain included.

That led to SVSU (4-4, 2-4) holding a 416-363 advantage in total yards.

Defensively, senior Darryl Williams led NMU with 13 total tackles, including two for losses. Sophomore Nick Barnes made three pass breakups.

After a scoreless first quarter, the Cardinals’ Drew Franklin kicked a 20-yard field goal in the first minute of the second period. NMU tied it 3-3 on a Dalton Ray 49-yard boot about 4 1/2 minutes after that, but SVSU took the lead just before halftime.

The teams traded TDs about a minute apart early in the fourth. The Cardinals made it 17-6 on a Scott 9-yard scoring run, but Northern got to within five points when Knight got behind the SVSU defense and caught in stride a 61-yard TD pass.

NMU travels to No. 7 Grand Valley State on Saturday.

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