HOUGHTON, Mich. – The Michigan Tech football team gave the 9th ranked Grand Valley State Lakers all they could handle Saturday afternoon at Kearly Stadium, but came up just a bit short 21-16 on Homecoming. The lead changed hands four times throughout the game and the Huskies defense and special teams along with timely drives and plays by the Tech offense nearly produced an upset.
"I thought our guys played extremely hard all game and gave great effort for the entire 60 minutes," Michigan Tech Head Coach Steve Olson said. "We went toe-to-toe with a good football team and would have loved to have come out on top, but we are a good football team as well and believe we can compete with the top teams in the country. I thought our players proved that today.
"I think our offensive and defensive staffs made some nice adjustments as the game went on and we were able to run the ball more effectively on offense after the first series. On special teams, Will Ark had a tremendous game and one of the best games that you could have as a punter. He pinned them deep several times with some booming punts and well positioned kicks. We have a week off coming up which will be good for our players to concentrate on their studies and tests. We'll also get to work in preparation for the Northern Michigan game coming up in a couple weeks."
Michigan Tech (2-2, 0-2 GLIAC) got the ball first to start the game, but were forced to punt on fourth and one after freshman running back Emmett Boehler came up just short on a third down run. Grand Valley State (4-0, 2-0 GLIAC) took over at their 37-yard line and went 63 yards for the first score of the day. Aryuan Cain-Veasy rushed for a 3-yard touchdown to give the Lakers a 7-0 lead with 10:27 left in the first quarter.
Later in the first quarter, the Huskies would even the score thanks to their special teams. Grand Valley State punter Dan Madden had a snap go through his hands and bounce all the way into the end zone. Just before the ball crossed the back line, freshman Will Marano was able to fall on the football for a Tech touchdown to make it 7-7 with 6:30 to play in the first quarter.
Neither side would add any points until the later stages of the third quarter. The defenses settled in from there and in addition, junior Will Ark kept the Lakers' offense backed up against the goal line with some tremendous punts that helped prevent Grand Valley State from finding any kind of rhythm on offense.
Late in the third quarter, the Huskies pulled in front 10-7 on a 28-yard field goal by senior Evan Gornick with 2:50 showing on the clock. The drive was setup by a 23-yard punt return courtesy of senior Jacob Wenzlick.
Unfortunately, the Lakers answered on their ensuing possession which began in the third quarter and carried forward into the fourth. Cain-Veasey logged another touchdown for Grand Valley State on a one-yard run with 12:48 to go in the game, capping a 10 play 75-yard scoring drive which made the score 14-10 in the Lakers favor.
However, the Huskies bounced right back and engineered a textbook drive of their own to power back on top. Key passes of 13 and 12 yards from Ark to Marano got Tech rolling on the ground and the Huskies were able to reel off multiple carries of five yards or more. Boehler concluded the drive by sprinting into the end zone from eight yards out with 5:56 to go in the game. The Tech scoring drive covered 78 yards in 12 plays and chewed 6:46 off the clock.
The Lakers couldn't do anything on their next drive thanks to a pair of Tech sacks on defense courtesy of sophomore Braxton Blackwell and senior Marshael Ryan. The sacks were two of six the Huskies' defense created in Saturday's game. Tech now has 20 sacks through the first four contests of the 2019 season.
The Lakers were able to get the ball back one more time though with 3:25 to play in the fourth quarter and used all but 24 seconds on what would be the game winning drive. Quarterback Cade Peterson found wide receiver Austin Paritee for a 13-yard pass on fourth and eight to keep the drive alive with a first down. Cain-Veasy eventually logged his third touchdown of the day on a three-yard run to give the Lakers a 21-16 lead. The Huskies were unable to go the distance on their last drive in the final seconds.
Ark completed 15 passes for 111 yards and averaged 48.1 yards per punt, with five landing inside the 20-yard line Saturday afternoon. Marano led the ground attack with 47 yards on 10 carries and the touchdown on the special teams fumble recovery in the first quarter. Boehler added 40 yards on 16 carries and had his first career touchdown in the contest. Marano and Hartley each posted 26 receiving yards while Wenlzick had a team high four receptions.
As a team, the Huskies had 217 yards of total offense with 106 coming on the ground and 111 through the air. Meanwhile, Tech's defense limited the Lakers to 287 total yards Saturday afternoon.
Ryan finished the game with nine total tackles, including a sack and two tackles for a loss. John Paramski made eight stops followed by Blackwell, Travis Tidwell, and Xavier Ciardo with six tackles each. Ciardo had three sacks which all counted for tackles for a loss as well. The Huskies combined for six sacks and eight tackles for a loss.
Peterson completed eight passes for 157 yards, with Austin Paritee being his favorite target on the day. Paritee reeled in four catches for 89 total yards. Cain-Veasey powered the Lakers offense with 101 yards on 27 carries and had all three Grand Valley State touchdowns. Isaiah Nkansah guided the defense with 10 tackles, including one for a loss. Jailyn Harden and Tyler Bradfield both followed with seven tackles each.
The Huskies have a bye next weekend and will return to the field Saturday October 12th to face rival Northern Michigan in the annual Miner's Cup game. The kickoff from Sherman Field at Kearly Stadium is scheduled for 1 p.m. eastern time.