HOUGHTON, Mich. – The Michigan Tech football team got back on track Saturday with a 17-10 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference victory over Davenport University at Sherman Field. The Huskies had big plays from the defense, special teams, and the offense on their way to an important conference win that snapped a span of three setbacks in a row.
"It was a hard fought and very tough game for us today," Michigan Tech Head Coach Steve Olson said. "I'm proud of our kids for coming out and finishing the way that they did. We had a lot of what we call desire plays today from a lot of different players. When we talk during the week about the difference between competing and winning, you have to have the want and desire to win football games. It's one thing to be able to stay close and compete, but the next step is how do you win. You do that by making big plays at big times and we were able to come through in those situations today."
Michigan Tech (4-5, 3-4 GLIAC) got the ball to start the game and put together a text book type drive. The Huskies ended up running 16 plays while taking 9:32 off the clock. Freshman quarterback Garrett Young, who was making his first collegiate start on Saturday found sophomore wide receiver Jacob Wenzlick on a seven-yard completion to put the Huskies at the Davenport (1-8, 0-7 GLIAC) two-yard line. Unfortunately, Tech was stopped on the next two plays prior to a missed field goal attempt, keeping the game scoreless at that point.
However, the Tech defense stepped up and shutdown the Panthers' offense to force a punt, not allowing any momentum to be generated from the goal line stand. Two possessions later, Davenport invaded the Huskies side of the field where they faced a fourth down and two scenario at the 24-yard line. Junior defensive lineman Cody Goldsworthy was able get to quarterback Haiden Majewski for a sack of 11-yards back at the Tech 35-yard line, ending the Panthers drive.
With just over 11 minutes to go in the second quarter, Goldsworthy recovered a Davenport fumble at the Panthers 26-yard line which setup Tech's first touchdown of the game. After an incompletion on first down, runs of two and six yards by senior running back James Henderson brought the ball down to the Davenport 18, setting up a fourth and two.
The Huskies called timeout and called a fourth down play that led to seven points. Young dropped back and fired a precision pass down the right sideline to junior wide receiver Kevin Kirkland for an 18-yard touchdown. It was Kirkland's second touchdown catch of the year and first career touchdown strike for Young with 10:07 to play in the half.
The Panthers would get on the board on the final play of the second quarter to draw within four points of the Huskies. Keion Powers caught a pass for 16 yards and then rushed for 14 yards to setup a 30-yard field goal from Jerred McGuire as time expired on the clock, leaving the score at 7-3 in favor of Tech as both teams went to the locker room.
Neither side could get much going in the third quarter as both defenses and special teams came up with some big plays. The Huskies were able to block their fifth kick of the year, this time on a punt when freshman defensive back Brandon Oja got to the football to deflect it up in the air. The Panthers threatened to score late in the quarter when they faced a fourth and one at the Tech 17, but junior defensive end Garrett Ross and sophomore defensive lineman Mattias Hoehnen brought down Powers for no gain to force the turnover on downs.
Davenport did eventually pull in front momentarily in the fourth quarter when Majewski found wide receiver Nate Couturier on 47-yard touchdown pass with 7:50 on the clock.
However, the Panthers would enjoy the lead for only a few seconds because junior Eric Kostreva gave it right back to the Huskies on the ensuing kickoff. Kostreva found a seam in the middle of the field and raced 93 yards for a touchdown. It's the second week in a row that Tech has been able to return a kickoff for a touchdown. Last week against Wayne State, Wenzlick took one to the house for 93-yards to answer a Warrior score. That was the first time it had been done since the 2012 season.
Leading 14-10, the Huskies' defense quickly got the ball back into the hands of the offense thanks to an interception by senior safety Derek Cingel. He returned the pick 12 yards to the Davenport 33-yard line with 6:40 to go. The Huskies preceded to chew up 4:52 off the clock and sophomore kicker Evan Gornick drilled a 34-yard field goal to make it a 17-10 lead with 1:48 to play.
The Panthers had one last chance to tie the game or take the lead and made it inside Husky territory to the 49-yard line. On a third and three play, sophomore linebacker Marvin Wright sealed the win with his second interception of the season when he stepped in front of a Cody Long pass at the 42-yard line. A couple of kneel downs ran the remainder of the time off the clock as the Huskies held on for the 17-10 win.
Young completed 11 passes for 92 yards in his first start, which included the 18-yard touchdown pass to Kirkland in the second quarter. Henderson carried the ball 26 times for 58 yards and senior fullback Alex Sherbinow had four carries for 11-yards, including a key three-yard run to convert a fourth down to help setup the Gornick field goal in the fourth quarter. Wenzlick led the receivers with four catches for 34-yards followed by sophomore fullback Jordan Ferguson with three receptions for 24 yards.
Sophomore linebacker Tyler Jacqmain had a team high nine tackles, including a half tackle for a loss. Goldsworthy finished with eight tackles, had two of the Huskies five sacks, picked up five tackles for a loss, a fumble recovery, and quarterback hurry. Sophomore defensive back Travis Tidwell posted seven tackles and four pass breakups with junior defensive lineman Garrett Ross adding six tackles and 1.5 sacks. Senior strong safety Spencer Moran picked up five tackles and a sack while Cingel and Wright came up with an interception each. As a team, the defense forced three turnovers, had five sacks, and 11 tackles for a loss.
Majewski completed six passes for 86 yards and a touchdown while Powers ran the ball 13 times for 47 yards to lead the Davenport offense. Couturier caught two passes for 52 yards and scored the only Panthers touchdown. Davenport's offense was limited to just 163 yards.
Linebacker Kye Black had 18 tackles for the defense with three sacks and 5.5 tackles for a loss in those totals. Arnell Anderson picked up 13 tackles and had a pair of pass breakups in the contest. Brian Williams logged six stops and came up with an interception for the Panthers.
The Huskies will go back out on the road Saturday when they head south to Tiffin University for another GLIAC contest. The kickoff is slated for 1 p.m.
"Tiffin is a very athletic football team," Coach Olson said. "They are playing very well on the defensive side of the ball and on both sides of the ball they are very athletic. They have a lot of team speed so that will be one of the big challenges for us next week."