UNIVERSITY CENTER - The Saginaw Valley State University football team hosted the Northern Michigan University Wildcats in a Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) North Division match-up on Saturday night. With both teams in search of their first conference victory, the Cardinals came up with the big plays in big spots to separate and claim a 14-7 victory at Harvey Randall Wickes Memorial Stadium.
Northern Michigan took an early 7-0 lead, as quarterback Shaye Brown connected with Marcus Tucker on a 10-yard score with just eight seconds left on the clock.
After a turnover on downs by the Cardinals, the Wildcats began marching and made it all the way down to the SVSU 20 yardline. On a second and eight, however, redshirt freshman linebacker Sloan Klaski stepped in front of a receiver and picked-off a Brown pass to halt the drive.
The Cardinals would get the ball back and two possessions later would put together an 11-play, 65 yard drive that set the home team up with a 35-yard field goal attempt. Kicking into a stiff wind, senior Scott Stanford put plenty of leg on the ball, but the wind seemingly grabbed the ball and carried it just wide left of the upright with 15 seconds remaining in the half.
Northern kneeled-out the clock from there and the teams entered the locker rooms for the break with the Wildcats holding a 7-0 advantage.
There would be no scoring in the third quarter, but SVSU began the final 15 minutes with the ball in possession after starting a drive with 1:48 left in the third. The Cards would put together a spectacular drive, going 19 plays and 75 yards and capping it off with a 17-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Keith Moore to fellow junior and wideout Bryan Fobbs. SVSU picked-up a pair of crucial fourth downs on the drive and overcame a false start penalty directly before the TD pass.
That score made the score all-square at 7-7 with 7:25 left on the game clock after a successful Stanford PAT.
After the teams traded punts, NMU took over from its own 19 yardline with 2:02 left in the game.
On the fourth play of the drive, Brown dropped back to pass for the 'Cats and threw a pass. The pass would end up right in the hands of SVSU senior defensive end Murtada Jabbie, who promptly returned it 48 yards to pay-dirt and a 14-7 Saginaw Valley advantage following the point after with a minute remaining.
An unsportsmanlike penalty on SVSU gave Northern improved field position after the following kickoff, as the Wildcats began the drive at their own 45 yardline.
NMU would drive down to the SV 15 yardline and faced a third and 2 with just four seconds remaining. Brown would fall victim to the INT once more, this time at the hands of sophomore safety Matt McKoy. McKoy stepped in front of a wide receiver, picked-off the pass and smartly fell to the turf after a short return that gave some separation from the endzone.
The 14-7 score is what the scoreboard would read when the time struck zeros, giving Saginaw Valley its first victory of the 2014 season.
Moore was 19-of-31 through the air for 172 yards and a touchdown. That touchdown was to Fobbs, who hauled-in seven catches for 89 yards with the score.
Jabbie, who was named the Meijer "Player of the Game" after his pick-six, led the defensive charge with a team-high eight tackles as well.
The Cardinals improve to 1-4 overall on the season and 1-3 in the GLIAC while Northern falls to 1-4 in 2014 with an 0-4 mark in league play.
Saginaw Valley hits the road Saturday (10/11) for a matchup with Ashland University. The Eagles will enter Saturday's contest with a 4-1 overall record and 4-1 mark in the GLIAC.