Turnovers by both teams played a huge factor in Saturday's football game between Hillsdale College and Northern Michigan University in Marquette. But it was the Wildcats who came up with the last turnover that sealed the result.
NMU defeated Hillsdale 32-24 at the Superior Dome, dropping the Chargers to 1-2 overall and in the GLIAC. The Chargers return home next week to host the University of Indianapolis.
This was a game of momentum. The Wildcats exploded at the beginning of the game, jumping out to a 16-0 lead early in the second quarter. Hillsdale got on the board with a 13-play, 75-yard drive capped by a 9-yard touchdown by junior running back Bennett Lewis.
On the ensuing kickoff, Brian Newman recovered a fumble forced by Scotty Penola, setting the Chargers up deep in Wildcat territory. Two plays later, quarterback CJ Mifsud hit tight end Kegan Smith for an 11-yard touchdown, suddenly making it a 16-14 game.
Hillsdale took its first lead of the game when Lewis scampered to paydirt from 27 yards out, capping the first drive of the third quarter, making the score 24-22 Hillsdale. At that point, the Chargers were on a 24-6 scoring run after the early 16-0 deficit.
But that would be the last time Hillsdale would score in the game. Northern Michigan intercepted two passes in the end zone on the Chargers' final two drives of the game to sew up the win.
There were 899 yards of total offense generated by the two teams, with 401 for the Chargers. Lewis had his second consecutive 100-yard rushing game, carrying the ball 21 times for 103 yards and two scores. Redshirt-freshman Joe Reverman averaged a robust 9.2 yards per carry, picking up 37 yards on 4 carries.
Mifsud went 25-for-43 for 232 yards, 1 touchdown and 2 interceptions. His favorite target was senior John Haley, who hauled in a season-high 7 passes for 91 yards. Lewis, Trey Brock and Newman each caught 3 passes.
There were more big plays by the defense. Sophomore linebacker Jay Rose recovered two fumbles, had a sack and had 9 total tackles. Safety Austin Koneval set a new career-high with 14 total tackles, including 12 solo stops. Freshman Dan Shanley added 9 tackles.