Marquette, Mich. - The University of Wisconsin-La Crosse football team dropped to 1-1 on the season with a 24-6 loss at National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division II Northern Michigan University Thursday night in the Superior Dome. The Wildcats, playing in their home opener, improve to 1-1 on the year with the victory in the first-ever meeting between the two teams.
The Eagles took the opening kickoff and went 69 yards in 15 plays using 7:05 to take a 6-0 lead as Andy Sires threw a four-yard touchdown pass to Tony Bilderback. Adam Pannier's extra-point attempt was missed.
Northern Michigan took a 7-6 lead with 2:43 left in the first quarter as Prince Young scored on a three-yard run. Rockme Belmonte converted the extra-point. The Wildcats went 25-yards in four plays to take the lead. The drive was set-up by Brandon Parson's 36-yard punt return.
The Wildcats drove to the Eagles' 19-yard line in the second quarter before Ryan Morley was intercepted by UW-L's Jake Meckstroth in the end zone.
Northern Michigan led 7-6 at halftime.
Young gave the Wildcats a 14-6 lead with 7:41 remaining in the third quarter as he scored on a one-yard run. Northern Michigan used 3:39 to go 92-yards on eight plays. The key play came on third-and-11 from the Wildcats' seven-yard line as Morley connected with Christian Marble-King on a 56-yard pass play.
The Wildcats took a 21-6 advantage with 11:31 remaing in the game as Young notched his third rushing touchdown of the game, this time from three-yards out. Northern Michigan went 35 yards in seven plays in 2:36. Belmonte finished the scoring with a 29-yard field goal with 5:52 left in the fourth quarter. Northern Michigan went 23 yards in eight plays and 3:12.
UW-L totaled 196 yards of offense Thursday night, including 54 rushing and 142 passing. The Eagles were held to 13 first downs and were seven-of-19 (36.8%) on third-down. UW-L held a 32:16 to 27:44 time of possession advantage.
Jared Stan finished with 55 yards rushing on 22 attempts (2.5 average).
Sires was five-of-10 passing for 36 yards with one touchdown. He was replaced early in the second quarter by Zach Mestelle who finished 12-of-24 passing for 106 yards and an interception. Bilderback caught five passes for 42 yards while Jake Welch (30 yards) and Stan (14) each had three receptions. Dillon Bean finished with two catches for 32 yards.
Christian Hallingstad averaged 43.9 yards on nine punts with a long of 59-yards. Stan had four kickoff returns for 62 yards while Jacob Flegner had one for 33 yards.
Northern Michigan had 313 yards of offense, including 144 rushing and 169 passing. The Wildcats were also held to 13 first downs while going five-of-15 (33.3%) on third-down.
Young totaled 102 yards rushing on 27 carries (3.8 average) and three touchdowns.
Morley was 11-of-25 passing for 169 yards and one interception while Christian Marble King had three receptions for 81 yards. Julian Gaines had four catches for 44 yards.
Mitch Hawkins led the UW-L defense with 10 tackles while Max Nicholson, Jay Wussow, Jack Leahyand Ben Morrison each had six tackles. Nicholson added two pass break-ups. Brandon Heeg and Nick Berg each recorded a sack.
Eddie Knoblock led Northern Michigan's defense with nine tackles while Nick Krause had 3.0 tackles for loss.
UW-L returns to action Saturday, September 15 at UW-Oshkosh in a "non-conference" WIAC contest. Kickoff is scheduled for 3 p.m.