SVSU reached its highest win total since 2013 and chose the perfect occasion to do so, defeating Northern Michigan 30-10 on Homecoming on Saturday, Oct. 13.
With the win, the Cardinals moved to 6-1 (3-1 in the GLIAC) and reached six wins for the first time since going 9-3 in 2013.
The Cards also find themselves in a four-way tie for second place as they prepare to host 7-0 Ferris State, which likely will move up to at least second in the nation after a come-frombehind win Saturday at previously unbeaten and then-No. 2 Grand Valley State. Kickoff against the Bulldogs is set for 1 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 20.
SVSU’s victory over Northern on Saturday was never in doubt, as the Cardinals raced to a 17-0 lead over the Wildcats, who came into the game 1-5 overall and 0-4 in the GLIAC.
After punts were traded for the first three drives, the Cardinals struck on a 78–yard bomb from junior quarterback Ryan Conklin to sophomore wide receiver Chad Gailliard.
On the following Wildcat drive, quarterback Kole Stealy’s pass was intercepted by senior linebacker Michael Alexander at Saginaw Valley’s 49-yard line. The defensive takeaway led to another touchdown connection between Conklin and Gailliard, this one from 19 yards out, giving the Cardinals an early 14-0 lead.
Early in the second quarter, the Cardinals offense moved down the field, resulting in a 20-yard field goal from freshman kicker Connor Luksic, increasing the Cardinal lead to 17-0. Wildcat kicker Daniel Riser booted in a 22-yard field goal on their next possession, making the score 17-3.
To start out the second half, the Cardinals capitalized on a 12-play, 92-yard drive with a one-yard rushing score by senior running back De’Juan James, providing a 23-3 lead.
Just before the end of the third quarter, junior linebacker Austin Egler halted a Wildcat drive, claiming the second Cardinal interception of the day. That allowed for Gailliard’s third receiving touchdown from Conklin, this one from six yards, making the score 30-3.
The Wildcats put together a 10-play, 41-yard drive capped off by a Latrell Giles 2-yard rush. That made the score 30-10, where the score remained. Redshirt freshman defensive back Raine Potts put out any hopes of making the score look better as he picked off Stealy on the last Wildcat drive. It was the Cardinals’ third interception of the day.
James rushed for 119 yards and a touchdown on 19 rushes. Conklin was 15-23 with three passing touchdowns, all of which went to Gailliard.
“Chad had a great day receiving,” head coach Jim Collins said. “There’s no doubt that Chad’s performance was special today.”
Gailliard’s performance certainly was nothing short of special, as he scored a career-high three touchdowns, netting 212 yards on 10 receptions.
Gailliard pointed out the energy provided by the defense leading to the offensive success.
“It’s great, especially when (the defense) can create turnovers so that we don’t have to drive the full length of the field,” Gailliard said. “It’s great when the defense is out there shutting down offenses week in and week out.”