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Huskies Notch Win in Season Opener, Cowie Sets New Passing Record

HOUGHTON, Mich – The Michigan Tech football team kicked off the 2016 season on Saturday with an impressive 33-7 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference victory against Walsh (Ohio) University at Sherman Field on a perfect day for football. The Huskies used a 14 point first quarter to establish an early edge before pulling away in the second and third quarters.

"I thought we played very well for an opener," Head Coach Tom Kearly said. "We made a mistake on that first drive with a fumble, but came right back to force a turnover to get the touchdown on the second drive and limited our mistakes. Defensively, I thought we did a really good job of controlling the line of scrimmage and our defensive unit was outstanding against the run."

The Michigan Tech (1-0, 1-0 GLIAC) defense held Walsh (0-1, 0-1 GLIAC) to a three and out on the opening possession and quickly put the ball into the hands of the offense. Senior quarterback Brandon Cowie went up top to find senior wide receiver David Walter for 14 yards to get things rolling. It would be the first of 26 completions for Cowie on the afternoon while attempting just 28 total passes.

The final completion rate Saturday  was 92.8%, a new school record. Steve Short held the previous mark of 85.7% which was set at Winona State on Aug. 30, 2008. Cowie also tied the GLIAC record for single-game pass completion percentage in the contest. Troy Weatherhead from Hillsdale also went 26-for-28 back in 2010.

Unfortunately, the opening drive resulted in a fumble near the goal line, but the defense stepped in to assist the offense. Junior defensive lineman Cayman Berg-Morales forced a fumble by running back Aaron Male at the Walsh 24-yard line and there to pick up the loose football was freshman defensive back Travis Tidwell. On the very next play, the Huskies called for an end around as freshman wide receiver Jacob Wenzlick scampered 25 yards around the right side into the end zone for a 7-0 lead with 8:37 left in the first quarter.

Later in the first, Tech added seven more points to the scoreboard when the offense engineered a six play 52-yard drive. It culminated on a Cowie touchdown pass to Kevin Miller with 1:07 on the clock. It would be the first of three touchdown passes for Cowie on the day.

Both defensive units settled in during the second quarter, but the Huskies were still able to tack on six more points. Tech worked the ball inside the 10-yard line with 4:53 to go in the half, setting up a 26-yard field goal by junior kicker Josh King. King posted another triple right before the break, this time connecting from 28 yards out as time expired, making the score 20-0 in favor of the Huskies.

Michigan Tech got the ball to start the second half and put together another long drive, this time 75 yards. Cowie linked up with senior tight end Ian Wienke twice during the stretch, including a 14-yard touchdown pass and catch to cap the drive and bump the gap to 26-0.

The Tech defense forced another three and out for Walsh, setting up the final scoring drive of the day for the Huskies. Junior running back John Williams had three carries and two receptions on the drive. The crucial catch was a 16-yard pass from Cowie and with the extra point by King, the Huskies held a 33-0 lead with 5:25 remaining in the third.

The Cavaliers would get on the board early in the fourth quarter for their only touchdown on an Aaron Male three-yard run, resulting in the 33-7 final.

Cowie finished the afternoon 26 of 28 for 280 yards and three touchdowns against the Cavaliers. He also averaged 10.8 yards per completion on the day. Williams led the team with 61 yards on the ground and had one touchdown catch. Walter paced the receiving core with eight receptions for 95 yards, junior wide receiver Ian Fischer had seven catches for 63 yards, and Ian Wienke hauled in four passes for 69 yards and a score.

As a team, the Huskies had 395 yards of total offense with 280 through the air and 115 on the ground. They were 5 of 6 in the RedZone and scored 14 points off turnovers.

Freshman linebacker Marvin Wright had a big day for the Huskies' defense, tallying seven tackles with one going for a loss. Senior defensive back Nick Brajak had six stops and an interception followed by Berg-Morales and senior linebacker Ben Tauchen with four tackles as well. Tidwell had a pair of tackles, recovered a fumble, and picked off a pass in the contest.

The defense limited the Cavaliers to 146 total yards while totally shutting down the running game. Walsh was held to a net of 35 yards rushing at Sherman Field Saturday.

Cavaliers' quarterback Reid Worstell was 18 of 26 passing for 111 yards and two interceptions. Jeremy Willison had five catches for 33 yards and Male carried the ball nine times for 36 yards. Linebacker Seamus O'Sullivan powered the defense with nine total tackles.

Michigan Tech will be back in action at Sherman Field when the team hosts Ferris State on Saturday. Ferris State is ranked 12th in the AFCA Division II Preseason Coaches' Poll and 9th in the Preseason Poll.

The kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m.