MARQUETTE, Mich. ?? The Northern Michigan University football team opened the 2013 season with a 41-31 victory over the University of Findlay on Saturday (Sept. 14) afternoon from the Superior Dome. The Oilers had four turnovers that turned into three Wildcat touchdowns and NMU scored 24 straight points in the second quarter.
After each team scored a touchdown in the first quarter, NMU went on a 17-play, 76-yard drive capped off by a 19-yard field goal by Jon Linkenheimer to take a 10-7 lead.
Sophomore Thomas McNamara forced a Findlay fumble deep in Oiler territory later in the quarter. Senior quarterback Cody Scepaniak connected with senior receiver Christian Jesse for a 16-yard gain and sophomore running back Wyatt Jurasin added to the lead (17-7) with a 10-yard touchdown run.
On NMU's next possession, sophomore running back Keon Collier scored a 6-yard touchdown run for a 17-point lead after a quick 6-play, 62-yard drive. Jessie had a 26-yard, leaping reception to set up the score.
The 'Cats weren't done in the second as senior Brandon Parson had an interception to set up another touchdown. Scepaniak found junior receiver Marcus Tucker in the back of the endzone for a 23-yard, highlight reel grab.
After a 31-17 lead at halftime, the Oilers added a 32-yard field goal on their first possession. On the next UF drive, sophomore Loran Jaddou forced a fumble that was recovered by sophomore Terrance Dye. Scepaniak and Jessie hooked up on the very next play for an 85-yard touchdown and a 38-10 NMU lead.
Findlay scored on their next three possessions. Verlon Reed had a 6-yard pass to Henry to cut the lead to 38-17 at the end of the third quarter. Daiquone Ford had a 1-yard touchdown run with 12:26 left after a pair of 30-yard passes set up the score.
Feraris Golden picked off Scepaniak at NMU's 37 yard line after wrestling the ball out of a receivers hand. The Oilers cut the lead to seven (38-31) with a quick 4-play drive capped off by a Demetrius Trapps 5-yard run with 9:22 left.
NMU started their dive on their own 27 and marched 62 yards down the field and took a two possession lead (41-31) after a 29-yard field goal from Linkenheimer with 4:25 left.
Sophomore defensive back Levi Perry sealed the victory for the 'Cats with an interception and time ran out on Findlay on its next possession.
After Findlay had a three and out to start the game, Northern scored on its first possession of the season. Scepaniak had a 1-yard touchdown run after an 18-yard pass to Jessie to set up the play.
The Oilers (1-1, 0-1 GLIAC) answered with a 9-play, 75-yard drive capped off by a 42-yard touchdown pass from Devontae Payne to Lloyd Henry.
NMU finished with 507 yards of total offense on 320 yards passing and 187 yards rushing. The 'Cats were 7-for-16 on third down and 1-for-1 on fourth down.
Scepaniak finished the game with 320 yards passing on 22-for-35 attempts. He threw two touchdowns and one interception. Scepaniak also had a game-high with 95 yards rushing on 18 attempts.
Jessie had 10 catches for 189 yards and a touchdown. Tucker finished with 65 yards on four grabs and junior Kelvin Smarwt added 48 yards receiving. Jurasin finished with 85 yards rushing on 20 attempts.
Senior Morgan Stenz led the defense with 13 total tackles. Sophomore Thomas McNamara had 10 total tackles.
Findlay finished the day with 592 yards of offense (165 rushing, 427 passing). Reed had 363 yards passing on the day on 22-of-36 attempts. Payne had 64 yards passing. Henry (175) and Luke Hampton (140) had over 100 yards receiving and Ford led with 87 yards rushing. Trevor Smith had 17 total tackles on the day for the Oilers.
NMU hosts Ohio Dominican next weekend for Homecoming. A game day tailgate party is planned for Third Street before the 3 p.m. kickoff.