Wildcats win a close one on Homecoming

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MARQUETTE, Mich. (WLUC) - Jake Mayon capped an 82-yard drive with a one-yard touchdown rush with 25 seconds left on the clock to lift the Northern Michigan football team to a 29-24 victory over Northwood Saturday.

Mayon's second game-winning touchdown run of the season was set up by a long march down the field orchestrated by Shaye Brown, who connected with three receivers for gains of more than 10 yards and also drew the personal foul that set the Wildcats up in the red zone.

Northern Michigan jumped out to the lead on its first drive of the game. After a 43-yard rush by Mayon set the Wildcats up in Timberwolf territory, Brown found Paris Woods along the sideline for a 33-yard score, Woods's first of three in the first half.

Northwood looked like it would respond on its next drive, reaching the Northern Michigan 18-yard line. But Austin McCarthy forced a fumble and then recovered the ball himself.

McCarthy's play led to Woods's second touchdown. A roughing the kicker penalty gave the Wildcats new life, and Brown found Woods for a 24-yard score with 14:10 to go in the second quarter.

The Timberwolves got on the board with 9:05 to play in the second quarter when Theron Wilson managed to haul in a 14-yard pass from Joe Garbarino while draped with two Wildcats.

With 1:30 left in the half, La'Ryan Johnson picked off a Garbarino pass deep in the Northwood end. On Northern Michigan's next play, Brown connected with Woods along the sideline for a 32-yard score and a 20-7 lead going into the locker room.

The teams traded field goals in the third quarter to bring the score to 23-10 entering the final 15 minutes of the game. The Timberwolves chewed up significant time on the clock by consistently running the ball, and they scored rushing touchdowns on back-to-back drives to take their first lead of the game, at 24-23.

After Mayon's touchdown run, Northwood marched down the field, with Garbarino totaling 36 of his 113 passing yards of the game to set his team up on the Northern Michigan 39-yard line with four seconds to play. With no time left on the clock, Theron Wilson outleapt James Brown and hauled in Garbarino's Hail Mary pass. The Timberwolves stormed the field, thinking they had won, but the referees ruled that Wilson's feet came down on the one-yard line.

Woods totaled 104 receiving yards and three touchdowns on five catches. He is the 10th Wildcat to haul in three touchdowns in a game, joining Bob Stefanski (1983), Joel Yaggie (1986), D.J. Rein (1989), Jeremy Wilkinson (1997), Vincent Mayfield (2003), Fred Wells (2005), Dustin Brancheau (2010), Marcus Tucker (2015) and Keyondre Craig (2015).

Brown threw for 163 yards and three touchdowns on 14 for 22 passing. On the ground, Mayon finished just shy of 100 yards, racking up 96.
Julian Hornback led the Wildcats with 15 tackles while Darryl Williams (11) and Matt Boonstra (10) also reached the double digits.

With the win, Northern Michigan improves to 2-2 (2-1 GLIAC). The Wildcats return to action when they host Walsh Oct. 1 at 4 p.m. during Family Weekend.

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