TIFFIN, Ohio – The Michigan Tech football team fell in a Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference contest on Saturday at Tiffin 14-7. The Dragons rallied in the second half with 14 unanswered points to pull past the Huskies in the final road game of the 2017 season.
"It was another typical GLIAC football game, close, hard fought, and could have gone either way," Michigan Tech Head Coach Steve Olson said. "Unfortunately, they wound up on the right end of it and we didn't. We have to continue to work to find the things that we can do better to try and get on the winning side in these tough games.
"We have to go out next week and put together a good effort against Ferris State and after that we have to take a look at all the things that we need to improve on as we move forward with this football team. Our kids work and prepare hard each and every week and we'll get ready to face a very good Ferris State team next Saturday."
Points were hard to come by Saturday afternoon for both teams, although the offenses for Tiffin (6-4, 5-3 GLIAC) and Michigan Tech (4-6, 3-5 GLIAC) were able to generate yardage during the contest. The Dragons had the first opportunity to put points on the board late in the first quarter.
The Huskies defense stopped Tiffin in a first and goal scenario at the seven-yard line. The Dragons pushed the ball to the one-yard line, but Jaquan Hardy was pushed back from the end zone on a third down run which would prove to be huge. Tiffin chose not to go for it on fourth down and try the field goal instead. Senior linebacker Spencer Moran broke through the line and blocked the attempt, which gives him three on the season and the Huskies six as a team.
The Huskies offense then took over on their own nine-yard line and marched to the other end of the field for a touchdown. Freshman quarterback Garrett Young scrambled for 19-yards to move the chains on a third an eight play and then found sophomore wide receiver Weston Butler for a 26-yard completion that placed the ball at the Tiffin 38.
The Huskies converted a fourth and seven when senior running back John Williams caught a nine-yard pass from Young, making a defender miss in the open field to move the sticks. Three plays later on a third and six, Young shifted to his left and threw back to the right, finding sophomore wide receiver Ben Hartley in the end zone for a 22-yard touchdown pass. It was Young's second touchdown pass of the season and third catch for a touchdown by Hartley in 2017.
That score proved to be the only points in the opening half on Saturday. The Tech defense stopped the Dragons on a fourth and 6 play with 3:34 left in the second quarter and then moved the ball to the Tiffin 29-yard line. A long 46-yard field goal by sophomore kicker Evan Gornick went just wide to the right and Tiffin ran out the clock to end the half.
The Dragons received the football to start the third quarter and were able to put together an 11 play 78-yard drive to tie the game. Jihad Vercher stepped in at quarterback in the third quarter after an injury to starter Nick Watson forced him to the sidelines in the first half. The Dragons logged the majority of the yardage on the ground, but Vercher went to the air to find Victor Talley for a three-yard touchdown with 8:54 on the clock.
Unfortunately, Tiffin's defense shut down the Huskies the rest of the way. Dragons' kicker Joseph Metcalf missed a 27-yard field goal that would have broken the tie tied with 9:54 to play in the game. However, after a Tech punt by sophomore Michael James was fumbled out of bounds by Delan Wynn, Tiffin took advantage of the fortuitous bounce and moved 56-yards for the go ahead touchdown. Hardy ran the ball in from 18-yards out with 3:26 showing on the fourth quarter clock.
The Huskies had two more possessions in the final minutes, but were unable to score. After a turnover on downs, the Huskies' defense got the ball back by stopping Tiffin at the Tech 33 on a fourth four with 17 seconds to go. With a couple of pass completions and a 15-yard face mask penalty against the Dragons, Tech had one final play at the Tiffin 20-yard line to try and get in the end zone. Unfortunately, Young's pass fell incomplete and Tiffin was able to hang on for the win.
Young completed 14 passes for 226 yards and one touchdown Saturday afternoon. Butler caught three passes for a team high 67 yards followed by sophomore fullback Jordan Ferguson with two receptions for 57 yards. Hartley caught three passes for 43 yards and had the Huskies touchdown.
On the ground, senior tailback James Henderson carried the ball four times for 40-yards to pace the team in rushing. As a team, Tech had 282 yards of total offense with 226 of those yards generated in the passing game.
Defensively, Tech was guided by sophomore linebacker Marvin Wright with 13 tackles, including two for a loss. Senior safety Cory Williams made 10 tackles and Moran ended the afternoon with 10 total tackles, two tackles for a loss, and his third blocked kick of the season.
Watson completed 13 passes for 97 yards to lead Tiffin in the first half and then in the second half Vercher completed eight passes for 47 yards and a touchdown. He also ran the ball nine times for 58 yards in relief of Watson. Hardy carried the ball 22 times for 117 yards and notched the other Tiffin touchdown. Talley was the leading receiver with eight catches for 65-yards and a touchdown.
Carrington Contee and Daijohn Isbell led the Tiffin defense with eight tackles apiece followed by linebacker Brandon Burks with six tackles and two sacks. The Dragons were able to sack Young six times and generate 10 total tackles for a loss. The Huskies return home next Saturday to face Ferris State on Senior Day at Sherman Field. Saturday's game will also be part of Military Appreciation Weekend as Michigan Tech honors those who serve and have served in our armed forces.
The kickoff is slated for 12 p.m.