ASHLAND, Ohio – The Michigan Tech football team fell in a Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference contest 27-7 at Ashland University Saturday afternoon. The Huskies weren't able to get much going against an Eagles team that had won three of their last four games and were coming off a bye week.
"We didn't come out and play today as well as we wanted to," Michigan Tech Head Coach Steve Olson said. "We had some opportunities early on in the game to make some defensive stops and were unable to get that done. We moved the ball ok at times on offense, but had some drives stall out. We need to work on our consistency in terms of completing drives on offense and being able to get off the field defensively. We have a big game at Northern Michigan next week so we have to put this one behind us and turn the page as quickly as possible from this game to the next one."
Ashland (4-3, 4-1 GLIAC) received the ball first to open the game and put together an extended scoring drive to go on top. The Eagles covered 75 yards in 12 plays as quarterback Austin Brenner ran eight yards on a fourth and two for the game's first touchdown. Ashland, who leads the GLIAC in third down conversions, moved the chains twice on third and once on fourth for the score.
Trailing 7-0, Michigan Tech (3-5, 1-5 GLIAC) got the ball for the first time, handing it to freshman running back Jared Smith for back-to-back carries of seven yards. Unfortunately, the Huskies were forced to punt and from their both defenses settled in over the next few minutes.
Following a solid 36-yard punt by Michael James late in the first quarter, the Eagles found themselves backed up at their own seven-yard line. Ashland escaped the shadow of the goal line with pass completions of 23 and 19 yards by Brenner to move the ball out near midfield. Tech's defense then created a fumble on a carry by running back Andrew Vaughn.
Vaughn had made his way 23 yards down the field, but senior safety Graham Hubbell swiped the ball loose with a tackle from behind and senior defensive lineman Xavier Ciardo was there to fall on it. The play gave the ball back to Tech and thwarted a potential Ashland scoring drive.
Ashland's defense though held the Tech offense to a three and out, forcing a punt on fourth down. The Eagles took over on their 34-yard line and used an eight play 66-yard drive to produce their second touchdown of the afternoon. Running back Luke Ogi powered in from 13 yards out on the ground and with the extra point, Ashland established a 14-0 advantage with 7:43 remaining in the second quarter.
The Huskies offense countered with one of their better drives of the afternoon as Smith had some success running the ball on the ground. Sophomore quarterback Will Ark completed a quick five-yard pass to senior wide receiver Kevin Kirkland followed by four straight running plays form Smith, which generated a combined 24-yards to put the ball at the Ashland 25. The drive stalled though, ending with a missed field goal at the 4:40 mark of the second quarter.
Leading 14-0 at the break, the Eagles were able to control the majority of the third and fourth quarters to put the game out of reach. Satchel Denton connected on a 23-yard field goal on Ashland's first possession of the third quarter and tacked on a second triple following another drive that ate up nearly eight minutes off the clock. His second field goal was from 25-yards out with 13:52 left in the fourth.
The Eagles final scoring drive began at their own 17-yard line after a career long 63-yard punt by James. Ashland covered the 83 yards in 13 plays and used 8:11 of the fourth quarter clock. The final play was a two-yard touchdown run by Ronald Lee, making it a 27-0 score with 4:10 to go in the game.
The Huskies kept battling and were able to get in the end zone late in the fourth quarter. Smith ran for nine yards followed by pass completions from Ark to junior wide receiver Ben Hartley for 8 and 23 yards respectively. Ark then connected with senior wide receiver Jacob Wenzlick for 13 yards, Smith scampered for nine yards on the ground, and sophomore fullback Jordan Ferguson converted with a two-yard run on fourth and one at the Ashland 12. Ark went up top on the very next play and found sophomore wide receiver Jordan Janssen for a 10-yard touchdown. It was Ark's ninth touchdown pass and the second touchdown reception of the season for Janssen.
Smith led the Tech offense with 86 yards on 17 carries, resulting in a 5.1 yards per carry average on the afternoon. Ark completed seven passes for 85 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Wenzlick reeled in three receptions for 39 yards followed by Hartley with two catches for 31 yards. The Huskies were limited to 159 yards of total offense on Saturday.
Hubbell paced the defense with 12 tackles and forced a fumble followed by sophomore defensive back Brandon Oja with a career high 10 tackles. Junior linebacker Marvin Wright recorded eight stops followed by junior defensive back Travis Tidwell, junior defensive lineman Mattias Hoehnen and senior defensive lineman Garrett Ross with six tackles each. Ross added 2.5 sacks and three tackles for a loss to his season totals, giving him a team high six sacks on the year.
Brenner completed 23 of 32 passes for 198 yards while Ogi wrapped up the game with 105 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries for the Eagles offense. Kamaron Green was the leading receiver, reeling in nine catches for 73 yards. Ashland had 403 yards of total offense with 205 of those yards coming on the ground. The Eagles also dominated the time of possession category, maintaining the ball for 40:16 Saturday afternoon.
Ryan Corkrean and Tristan Reichelderfer each had six tackles for the Ashland defense followed by James Prater Jr. with four tackles and two sacks. Isaiah Stiverson produced the Eagles interception.
The Huskies will look to regroup next Saturday when they travel to Marquette to face rival Northern Michigan in the annual Miner's Cup game. The kickoff from the Superior Dome is slated for 1 p.m.