MIDLAND, Mich. – The Michigan Tech football team saw a two game winning streak come to an end on Saturday, falling in a Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference contest at Northwood University 29-24. The Huskies overcame a 14-0 first half deficit to take the lead 24-23 with 8:35 to go in the fourth quarter. However, the Timberwolves would score on their final drive with 1:17 showing on the clock to get the win.
"When we take a look at the film we are going to see opportunities that were there to win the football game," Michigan Tech Head Coach Steve Olson said. "We had a tough start to the third quarter, giving up the safety and then the touchdown. We needed to do a better job there, especially coming out to start the half. We have to bounce back this week and get ourselves ready for Ashland. We have great kids who are hard workers and they'll figure it out this week and be ready to play against Ashland next weekend."
Saturday's game followed a similar script to last week with Northwood (3-3, 1-3 GLIAC) jumping out to a 14-0 lead in the first half. The Timberwolves were able to stop the Michigan Tech (3-3, 2-2 GLIAC) offense on the opening possession of the game and then go 62-yards on seven plays for the first touchdown of the day with 10:34 on the first quarter clock. Dominick Giovinazzo carried the ball in from 17-yards out to put Northwood in front.
The score remained at 7-0 until early in the second quarter when Northwood found the end zone again. The Timberwolves started the scoring drive at their 13-yard line and went down the field, using a 22-yard pass by Joe Garbarino, a 31-yard run by Andrew Carter, followed by a 15-yard run courtesy of TJ Schepperly. Carter capped the drive with a touchdown from four yards out to make it a 14-0 game with 11:23 left on the second quarter clock.
Needing to answer, the Huskies were able to do just that on the ensuing drive. The Tech offense engineered an 11-play 68-yard drive to cut the deficit in half. Junior quarterback Jake Brown completed a 23-yard pass to sophomore fullback Jordan Ferguson while senior running back James Henderson reeled off runs of six yards, a pair of 11-yard bursts, and a three yard run to put the ball at the one-yard line. Henderson also caught a nine yard pass from Brown on a third and nine to help setup a one-yard touchdown run by fullback Alex Sherbinow with 6:54 to go in the half.
The Huskies' defense forced a Northwood punt on the next drive and took over possession at the 20-yard line with 4:05 remaining in the second. Tech nearly lost the ball on a fumble that was recovered by offensive lineman Seth Malcom on a third down play. The Huskies were then forced to punt on fourth and four, but an offside penalty on Northwood moved the chains and kept the drive alive.
Brown would find sophomore wide receiver Ben Hartley open on a pass for 18-yards followed by a pass interference penalty against the Timberwolves. Henderson added runs of seven and 12 yards on the ground to put the ball at the four. With seven seconds on the clock and a third and goal at the four, Hartley capped the drive when he hauled in a touchdown pass from Brown right before time expired. The score enabled the Huskies to go into the locker tied 14-14 with Northwood.
Unfortunately, the game wouldn't stay tied for long as a safety by the Northwood defense with 11:44 left in the third made it a 16-14 score. A Scott McCormick punt pinned the Huskies at their own two-yard line and on second and 10 from the two, linebacker Charles Williams tackled senior running back John Williams in the end zone.
Vashon Nutt returned the ensuing free kick 64-yards to the Tech 19-yard line and eventually Andre Carter got into the end zone on a three-yard touchdown run. Suddenly, the Huskies found themselves down 23-14 with 9:09 left in the third quarter.
Just like earlier in the game when faced with a two score deficit, the Huskies answered the bell again on their very next drive by marching the ball into the red zone against Northwood. The drive stalled on a third and goal, but the Huskies were able to come away with three-points and make it a one-possession contest again. Sophomore placekicker Evan Gornick connected on his fourth field goal of the season from 29-yards out to make it a 23-17 score with 3:07 to play in the third.
Neither offense added to the point totals until the Huskies gained the lead for the first time in the game with 8:35 to go in the fourth. The Tech defense kept the Timberwolves pinned up inside their 10-yard line and forced a punt early in the fourth quarter. The Huskies took possession at the Northwood 49-yard line after a 12-yard punt return by sophomore wide receiver Jacob Wenzlick.
Brown hit junior wide receiver Kevin Kirkland on a 12-yard pass play followed by a Williams rush of 12-yards. Tech picked up 15 more yards on a pass interference penalty which generated a first and goal at the Northwood eight yard-line. The Huskies lost three-yards on the first two places and were left facing a third and goal from the 11. The Tech offense was able to beat a Northwood blitz when Brown fired a pass over the middle that was pulled in by Wenzlick for the touchdown. The extra point by Gornick gave the Huskies a 24-23 edge with 8:35 to play.
The Michigan Tech defense then came up big the next time the Northwood offense touched the ball. The Timberwolves moved the chains once on the drive, but on a first down play at the 43-yard line, sophomore linebacker Marvin Wright picked off a Garbarino pass at the Tech 41 with 6:54 to go.
Northwood's defense then rose to the challenge by forcing the Huskies to punt after three plays. The Timberwolves took over at their 20-yard line to begin what would be the game winning drive. Facing a third down and 10 from the 30, Garbarino made the play of the game for the Northwood offense.
He scrambled back to his 20-yard line and just before being sacked, lobbed the ball down field to Justin Cook who caught the ball for 19-yards and a first down. From there, Northwood drove the ball down to the two where running back Cory Burdick dove across the goal line for the touchdown. The two-point conversion attempt failed leaving 1:17 on the clock and the Huskies down 29-24.
The Huskies got the ball back at their 25-yard line and pushed it forward to the 36 on an 11-yard scramble by Brown. However, on the next play, Brown's pass was deflected up in the air at the line of scrimmage and intercepted by Chase Harrington to seal the win for Northwood.
Brown finished the day completing 10 passes for 113 yards with two touchdowns on the afternoon. Williams paced the running attack with 107 yards on 24 carries followed by Henderson with a season best 62-yards on 11 touches for a 5.6 yards per carry average. Kirkland had three receptions for 36-yards while Ferguson, Wenzlick, and Hartley reeled in two catches apiece for 24, 22, and 22 yards respectively. Wenzlick and Harley each had their second touchdown receptions of the 2017 season.
As a team, the Huskies generated 323 yards of total offense with 210 of those coming on the ground. They converted 22 first downs and were 9 of 16 on third down conversions.
Defensively, junior defensive back Graham Hubbell recorded a team high 10 tackles with eight of those being of the solo variety. He also had a pass breakup on a nice deflection in the second half. Senior strong safety Spencer Moran followed with eight tackles and senior defensive back Cory Williams checked in with six tackles and a pass breakup. Wright notched his first interception of the season and logged one tackle in Saturday's game.
Garbarino completed nine passes for 93 yards and added 57 rushing yards Saturday afternoon. Corey Burdgick had 10 carries for 63 yards and a touchdown followed by Carter with 44 yards and two scores. Giovinazzo chipped in with 32-yards and a touchdown on four carries. Eight different players caught passes for the Timberwolves with Nathan Skene leading the way in yardage with 22 on one reception. Northwood had 375 yards of total offense with 282 rushing yards and 22 first down conversions.
Defensive back Chad Samuels had a team best eight tackles while defensive back Keyon Whitfield finished with seven tackles, including a sack and 2.5 tackles for a loss.
The Huskies will look to bounce back on Saturday when they travel to 18th ranked Ashland University. Ashland defeated Northern Michigan 38-13 this weekend.