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Huskies to Host Northern Michigan in Miner's Cup Game

Huskies to Host Northern Michigan in Miner's Cup Game

Michigan Tech Game Notes (PDF)    Northern Michigan Game Notes (PDF)
Sat., Sept. 30, 2017 • 7:00 p.m. (ET) • Sherman Field (3,200)
Michigan Tech (2-2, 1-1) vs Northern Michigan (1-2, 1-1)
TV: FOX UP (Mark Evans, Dave Ellis)
Radio Broadcast: WKMJ 93.5 FM (Josh Ylitalo, Brad Isaacson)
Audio Webcast:
Live Stats:

Michigan Tech engineered an incredible fourth quarter rally to earn a 28-24 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference victory at Saginaw Valley State this past Saturday. The Huskies trailed 24-14 with 15 minutes to play, but were able to reel off 14 unanswered points with great plays being made on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. Senior running back John Williams found the end zone on a pair of touchdown runs to record the points in the fourth quarter.

The Michigan Tech special teams unit blocked a kick for the second time this season in the win at Saginaw Valley State. Sophomore linebacker Marvin Wright shot through the line to get his hands on a fourth quarter field goal attempt. It was his first career blocked kick. The Huskies blocked a punt for a touchdown against Truman State in week one which helped spring board the team to a 38-14 win. 

The Huskies used the air attack effectively at Saginaw Valley State to create big plays and open up some space in the defense for the running game. Junior quarterback Jake Brown was 15 of 28 passing for 159 yards with one touchdown, finding five different receivers in the victory. Sophomore wide out Jacob Wenzlick caught a career best eight passes for 97 yards, including one for 31 yards that setup the game winning touchdown. Wenzlick leads the Huskies with 20 receptions this season. Senior David Falish reeled in three catches for 43 yards, one of which was 19-yard touchdown during the first drive of the third quarter.

Last Saturday's win was a total team victory on a hot humid day at Saginaw Valley State. Like the offense, the defense had numerous players step up to make big plays in key situations. The Huskies finished the game as a team with three sacks and 13 total tackles for a loss. It cost the the Cardinals' offense 50-yards during the 60 minute contest. In addition to the sacks, Tech defenders hurried the quarterback three times and broke up two passes. One of those breakups was by senior Mitchell Ryan who dislodged the football from receiver Alfonso Vultaggio on SVSU's final drive as they were trying to tie the score or take the lead.

The defense had multiple outstanding indiviudal performances in Saturday's win at Saginaw Valley State. Senior defensive back/strong safety Spencer Moran had a career high 15 tackles, which included one for a loss. The total tackles were the most by a Husky so far this season. Sophomore defensive lineman Mattias Hoehnen picked up five tackles while recording 2.5 sacks that cost the Cardinals 21 yards. Two of the sacks were back to back on SVSU's final drive in the fourth quarter which helped seal the win. Senior free safety Derek Cingel also matched a single game career high with 10 stops last Saturday.

The Michigan Tech offense has been consistently moving the ball forward for positive yardage this season. This past week, the Huskies had just one play for negative yardage. Tech leads the GLIAC and is third in NCAA Division II in fewest sacks allowed per game (0.5) while also leading the conference in fewest tackles for a loss allowed per contest (3.0). Tech is fifth nationally in that category. The offensive line has been a major strength for the Huskies through the first four games of the 2017 campaign.

Williams leads the GLIAC and is second in NCAA Division II with nine rushing touchdowns through the first four games. Willams had three more last week at SVSU, one against GVSU, two at Hillsdale, and three in week one against Truman State. He is also first in the GLIAC in total TD's (9) and fourth nationally.  Williams ranks second in the GLIAC in rushing yards (510) and is 12th nationally. He is averaging 127.5 yards per game which is second best in the GLIAC and 17th best in NCAA Division II. As a team, the Tech defense is second in the conference and 26th nationally in tackles for a loss per game (8.0). The Huskies are one of the least penalized teams in the country, ranking fourth in fewest penalty yards (122) and penalty yards per game (30.5).

Northern Michigan is coming off a 24-14 GLIAC win at home against Davenport last Saturday. The Wildcats are 1-2 overall and 1-1 in the GLIAC through their first three games of 2017. The NMU offense is powered by running back Jake Mayon who enters the weekend leading the conference in total rushing yards (513). He is averaging 171.0 yards per contest and owns three touchdowns. The Huskies' defense will have to keep and eye on Mayon who rushed for 237 yards against Tech in last year's contest. The Northern Michigan offense is averaging 355.3 yards and 18 points per game. Quaterback Ryan Johnson is listed on the depth chart as the starter this week. He is 12 of 19 this season for 131 yards and one TD. Wide receiver Ryan Knight has 12 catches for 198 yards and three scores.

Linebackers Darryl Williams and Marlon Harris are both guide the defense with 32 and 31 tackles respectively. Each player is averaging over 10 tackles per contest. Defensive lineman Cole Van Enkenvort has two sacks, a forced fumble, and an interception in the first three games.

Saturday's showdown marks the 16th anniversary of the Miner's Cup which was created in 2002 through the efforts of the Michigan Tech Athletics Department and its Army ROTC. The Miner's Cup Trophy is made from an authentic miner's helmet which is mounted on a wooden base. The helmet was found in a Houghton area antique shop. The Trophy has been in Houghton since the 2010 season as the Huskies enter the weekend with seven straight wins in the series. Tech won last year's battle by a final of 51-45 in double overtime at the Superior Dome. Williams had the game winning touchdown for the Huskies. The Huskies hold a 44-41-5 edge in the all-time series which includes a 12-3 mark in Miner's Cup games. The last time the game was in Houghton back in 2015, Tech prevailed 24-23. Brandon Cowie completed a seven-yard touchdown pass to David Walter for the go ahead score with 2:10 to go and then on the final play, Tech's Tanner Agen blocked a potential NMU game winning field goal to secure the victory.

The US National Guard is sponsoring this week's halftime promotion with one lucky fan receiving a backpack courtesy of the National Guard. It's also Koaches' Kids Day. Kids in attendance will receive a free poster and Tech football student-athletes will be available to sign posters following the contest.

Huskies' team captains for the 2017 season are defensive lineman Cayman Berg-Morales, running back John Williams, quarterback Jake Brown, and defensive back Mitchell Ryan.

Michigan Tech is picked to finish 6th (38 points) in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Preseason Poll, announced at the beginning of August by the conference office. Grand Valley State and Ferris State are at the top of rankings at No. 1 and No. 2 respectively. The Lakers edged the Bulldogs for the top spot by two points with 77 points. Ashland (#3, 67 points), Wayne State (#4, 54 points), and Saginaw Valley State (#5, 41 points) round out the top five in this year's poll.

New Head Coach Steve Olson takes the reigns of the program after serving as an assistant coach under Tom Kearly for six seasons, including the past three as defensive coordinator. Olson's defenses have been some of the best in the GLIAC year in and year out in multiple statistical categories.

The Michigan Tech coaching staff went through some transition during the offseason. Steve Olson was named the head coach after serving as the defensive coordinator during the 2016 campaign. Dan Mettlach returned to Tech to join the coaching staff after an outstanding career as a player. He was named the offensive coordinator after Eric Iueter joined the staff at the University of Florida. Former Husky running back Phil Milbrath returned to Tech as the new running back's coach earlier this month and Ken Klein returned as an assitant coach on the defenisve side of the ball. Bryan Thomas and Josh Wood were promoted to co-defensive coordinator roles. David Sartin continues in his role as offensive line coach with Tim Callahan assisting on the offesnive side of the ball while Michael Donnelly is an assistant coach for the defense.

Michigan Tech plays the first of two straight road games when the team heads down state to Northwood University. The Huskies fell at Northwood in last season's meeting 17-3. Tech will then travel to Ashland on October 14 before returning to Sherman Field for showdowns with Wayne State and Davenport.