NMU football: Wildcats return home following wacky weather at Grand Valley State
MARQUETTE – Good health has not been on the side of the Northern Michigan University football team this season, specifically at quarterback.
On Saturday in downstate Allendale, the weather didn’t cooperate either.
With true freshman Shaye Brown starting his first collegiate game at quarterback for the Wildcats because three other QBs are out for the season with injuries, the Wildcats’ game against Grand Valley State was cancelled due to lightning with 12:55 to play and the NMU offense on the GVSU 18 yard line.
The Lakers led 48-17 at the time and later in the night, the GLIAC declared Grand Valley the victors.
Earlier that night, play was delayed due to hail as well, and it all left head coach Chris Ostrowsky wondering what’s next for his ‘Cats this season?
“There was some hail, there was some snow, there was rain, there was lightning,” Ostrowsky said. “It was crazy.”
After back-to-back weekends on the road, the Wildcats return to Marquette for their final two home games of the season, starting at 1 p.m. on Saturday against Wayne State at the Superior Dome.
Northern hosts Northwood in the home finale a week from Saturday at 1 p.m. on Nov. 2.
“What we’re missing is obvious to anyone that knows football,” Ostrowsky said. “We have to do a great job competing on Saturday and competing for the rest of the four weeks.
“Staying together and making sure we take care of one another – as long as we do that, we move on as a football program and great things are in the future because we’re together.”
The three-quarter loss to GVSU dropped the ‘Cats to 1-5 overall, which is what team started last season before winning three of its last five games to finish 4-7 overall and 3-7 in the GLIAC.
Northern finished 2-2 in 2012 against its final four opponents with a win at Northwood and at home to Saginaw Valley State.
SVSU hosts Northern on Nov. 9 while Ferris State, which beat NMU on a late touchdown at the Superior Dome last year, hosts the Wildcats on Nov. 16 in the final week of the regular season.
“I’d like to think we can win them all,” Ostrowsky said. “I know our kids are working at it. It’d be a hell of an accomplishment and a hell of a deal for the program.
“I know our kids are working just as hard as we did last year. There are some critical components that are not in place. Last year’s team had some age in some critical places.”
Last year’s late run came after the Wildcats replaced inexperienced redshirt freshman quarterback Ryan Morley with junior transfer Cody Scepaniak because Morley was recovering from a concussion.
This year with Morley sidelined for the season after offseason shoulder surgery, the Wildcats have gone backward experience-wise by going from Scepaniak the senior, to junior transfer Dustin Thomas to Brown.
Brown finished 14 of 22 passing for 168 yards, a touchdown and an interception in three quarters against the Lakers.
His first collegiate TD pass was a 14-yarder to junior Marcus Tucker with 56 seconds remaining before halftime.
A 33-yard pass to Keyondre Craig in the fourth quarter put NMU on the GVSU 20 yard line, but after a 2-yard run by Keon Collier to the GVSU 18, play was halted due to the lightning.
“To see a kid that young play in that atmosphere and be able to be competitive is a testament to him as an athlete and him as a student of a game,” Ostrowsky said about Brown.
“His football intelligence and ability to play with poise, for a kid that young, he was prepared. He went about his preparation like a veteran would.”
NOTES: Northern leads the all-time series with Wayne State 15-12, but hasn’t beaten the Warriors since 2009. … Eight of the last 10 games between NMU and WSU have been decided by eight points or less with the Warriors beating the Wildcats 38-31 last year in Detroit. WSU scored the game-winning TD with 1:16 to play. … Saturday’s game is a part of Family Weekend at NMU. It’s also the annual Band Day game, which features 13 of the area’s high school bands.