The Northern State football team opened its 2013 season in exciting fashion Saturday night in front of 6,134 at Swisher Field as the Wolves used a 14-point fourth quarter to help propel them to a 29-27 triple overtime win over Wayne State.
Jared Jacobson hit Tanner White on the first play of the third overtime to put the Wolves up. Terrelle Walker then took a pass from Jacobson into the end zone for the two-point conversion and 29-21 Northern advantage. After a three yard run by Charlie Davidson cut the lead to 29-27, the Wolves forced an incompletion on the conversion to seal the victory.
NSU (1-0, 1-0 NSIC) overcame a lethargic first half in which it mustered just 66 yards of total offense and trailed 7-0 going into the break. However, the Northern defense rose to the occasion numerous times forcing the Wildcats into multiple mistakes to keep the Wolves in the game.
Northern forced WSC to miss two field goals from 40 and 33 yards, blocked two punts, had an interception and forced two turnovers on downs. The first came with 3:03 left in the third quarter, Wayne State went for it on a fourth and one from the NSU 31, but failed to convert when All-NSIC safety Logan Dosch recorded a tackle for loss. The second led to Northern's first score of the game as WSC failed to convert on a fake punt. Three plays later, Jacobson scored from a yard out to tie the game a 7-7.
The Wolves then took the lead for the first time on the evening when Jacobson hit John Hughes for an eight-yard score to put the Wolves up 14-7 with 4:47 to go.
The Wildcats showed resilience and marched down the field, even converting on a fourth and five to knot the game up with 1:52 remaining after Davidson's second score of the contest. NSU's last shot to win the game in regulation was a 46-yard field goal from freshman Nathan Shaw. The kick was blocked and the game was sent to bonus football.
After both teams opened the first OT with scores, the defenses held in the second extra frame as both kickers missed field goal attempts.
Jacobson went 14-of-37 passing for 214 yards and two TDs in the victory while also rushing for 17 yards and a score. Hughes led the Wolves ground attack with 50 yards on 19 carries. Tight end Connor Doherty caught six passes for 79 yards through the air for NSU. Chris Malsam had three grabs for 62 yards and a game-long grab of 38 yards.
The Wildcats were a one-two punch on offense Saturday. 2012 NSIC Offensive Newcomer of the Year Davidson, rushed for 190 yards and a pair of scores on a whopping 41 attempts. Toney Abraham also had a big day receiving for Wayne. Abraham caught 12 passed for 140 yards and also scored once.
The swarming Northern defense got great performances from multiple players. Michael Alberts, Devin Olson and Blaine Schmidt led the team with eight tackles each. Schmidt also had an interception in the game. Ikee Sirleaf had seven total tackles including one for loss. Dosch recorded five stops and two tackles-for-loss. Dosch is now just three tackles away from setting the NSU all-time record in that category. Linebacker Mike Tuch also recorded a sack in the win for the Wolves.
Next up, NSU will travel to Sioux Falls to take on the Cougars Sept. 14. Kickoff is set for 6:30 p.m.