LEBANON, Ill. – The Northern Michigan University football team opened the 2021 season with a 27-20 road victory over McKendree University on a rainy, humid day in Illinois.
It was the first game action for the Wildcats since the 2019 season.
The first drive of the game for NMU saw the Wildcats earn seven points. The Wildcats got the ball on their own 13-yard line after a Benjamin Loutsis fair catch.
Quarterback Drake Davis, in his first start, found redshirt freshman Charlie Gerhard for 11 yards and then rushed for six. After a seven-yard Tyquan Cox rush, Tyshon King was able to show off his speed and rush for 31 yards.
Davis then set another big play in motion with a 24-yard pass to freshman Wyatt Davis that placed NMU on the opponent’s four-yard line.
After a one-yard rush from Deandre Caldwell and a defensive stop on the next run from Zach Keen, Drake Davis ran the ball in for the first touchdown of the game. A Daniel Riser extra point put NMU up 7-0.
For five consecutive drives after the first score, both teams were forced to punt the ball.
A Rashad Harris sack on the last McKendree drive set the Bearcats back and they were unable to make a first down. The home team punted and gave the Wildcats excellent field position at the Mckendree 37. On the first play of the ensuing NMU drive, King took the ball 37 yards straight to the end zone.
A missed kick by Riser kept the score at 13-0.
In the third quarter, McKendree scored on three consecutive drives to tie the game at 13-all.
The Bearcats were able to run in a touchdown and make two field goals to pull even with the visiting team from Marquette.
On the Wildcats’ first drive in the first quarter NMU took the lead back.
A 48-yard kick return from Cox set the Wildcats up at the McKendree 46.
King rushed for a six-yard gain to move the Wildcats further up the field.
The following McKendree drive saw the Bearcats pull even again with a passing touchdown and good extra point. With 9:19 left in the game, it was 20-all.
With the game on the line, Cox took the kick off 24 yards to the NMU 25.
An incomplete pass opened the drive followed by a three-yard rushing loss. The ‘Cats turned the drive around on the next play with a 17-yard Drake Davis pass to Malcolm White. Explosive play continued for NMU as King rushed for 46-yards on the very next play.
After an incomplete pass, Drake Davis found Cox for the game-winning touchdown. A Riser kick set the score at 27-20 where it would stay for the final 6:20 of the contest.
The Wildcats ran for a total of 260 yards. King had 149 yards on the ground with Caldwell adding 73 and Cox contributing 37.
Drake Davis went 10-17 for 153 yards and two touchdowns while also rushing for a touchdown. Wyatt Davis had three catches for 39 yards while Van Dyne caught two passes for 75 yards and a touchdown. Cox also had a single catch for a touchdown.
The Wildcats will host the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh next Saturday. Kick-off at the Superior Dome is slated for 1 p.m.