The Northern State football team dropped its second-straight game Saturday afternoon, this time in heartbreaking fashion as the Wolves lost to Upper Iowa 24-17 at Swisher Field.
Chris Smith scored from 11 yards out with 35 seconds left in the game to put Upper Iowa up for good 22-17, a two-point conversion put UIU up 24-17. The Peacocks got the ball at the Northern 33-yardline with 1:49 remaining after a Wolves fumble on second down gave UIU second-life. Jared Jacobson's pass on 4th and 10 to Chris Malsam fell incomplete and clinched the win for Upper Iowa.
The NSIC's number one offense (UIU) was as advertised Saturday as the Peacocks gained 475 total yards for the game, rushing for 208 yards and passing for 267. The 267 yards passing were the most allowed by the NSU secondary in five games dating back to last season.
However, the Northern (1-2, 1-2 NSIC) defense bent but rarely broke Saturday as the Wolves forced three Peacock turnovers in the game, including a forced fumble and recovery by Blaine Schmidt at the Wolves' own one in the third quarter to keep NSU within two at 16-14.
The next UIU fumble came while the Peacocks were driving on the very next series, this time Matt Anderson forced the fumble that was recovered by Ryan Weybrecht at the Northern 21. Two drives later, Michael Alberts picked off UIU's Cole Jaeschke at the five to give Northern the ball with 4:36 remaining and a 17-16 lead.
Northern State scored first for the second consecutive game as Paul Woodward scored on a 26-yard punt block return. Woodward recorded the block on the play as well to put Northern up 7-0 with 12:39 to go in the opening quarter.
After a Smith 15-yard run knotted the game at 7-7, the Peacocks got a 34-yard field goal from kicker Gustavo Rocha. Jaeschke put Upper Iowa up 16-7 when he hit Lucas Hefty on a two-yard touchdown pass as Northern trailed 16-7 at the half.
NSU fought back in the third as Jared Jacobson recorded a season-high run from 31-yards out to score to cut the lead to 16-14. Freshman Nathan Shaw hit his second field goal of the season from 29-yards away to give NSU its first lead since the first quarter at 17-16. The field goal was set up by a great fake punt call on 4th-and-4 as punter Adrian Krupka hit Alberts on a 25-yard pass to put the Wolves in field goal range.
Jacobson led the Wolves with a season-best 91 yards on the ground on 14 carries. John Hughes also had 14 carries for NSU and recorded 38 yards. As a team NSU ran for a season-high 158 yards in the loss. Tanner White led Northern with three catches and 36 yards receiving.
Schmidt was all over the place for the Wolves in the secondary, recording a career-high and leading NSU with 13 total tackles including one for loss. Weybrecht had eight total stops including a sack and a fumble recovery in the contest. Mike Tuch and Logan Dosch each chipped in with seven tackles.
Next up for the Wolves will be a trip to Mankato, Minn., for a showdown with second-ranked Minnesota State next Saturday. Kickoff is set for 2 p.m.