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PREVIEW: Huskies Travel Downstate to Face Davenport

Offensive Line

Michigan Tech Game Notes (PDF) .   Davenport Game Notes (PDF)
Sat., Oct. 19, 2019 • 12:00 p.m. (ET) • Farmers Insurance Field (2,000)
Michigan Tech (3-2, 1-2 GLIAC) at Davenport (3-2, 1-2 GLIAC)
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Radio Broadcast: WKMJ 93.5 FM (Josh Ylitalo, Kirk McDonnell)
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Michigan Tech secured the Miner's Cup for the 10th straight time on Saturday, defeating Northern Michigan University 24-20 in a Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference battle at Sherman Field at Kearly Stadium. The Huskies pulled ahead for good with 7:24 to play in the fourth quarter on a game winning touchdown. Tech jumped out to a 10-0 lead only to see the Wildcats post 13 unanswered points to make it a 13-10 score at the break. It's the first time the Huskies trailed at the intermission, but they battled through the adversity to pull out the win. A combined effort from the offense, defense, and special teams help Tech extend the winning streak to 10 over the Wildcats. Junior Will Ark powered the Huskies' offense by completing 21 passes for 347 yards and three touchdowns. He also ran the ball seven times for 24 yards and did not have an interception. Senior Travis Tidwell guided the Huskies' defense with 10 total tackles to go along with two pass breakups.

Michigan Tech senior defensive back Travis Tidwell and senior placekicker Evan Gornick were selected as the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Defensive and Special Teams Players of the Week respectively following the Northern Michigan win. The Huskies have had conference players of the week now in back-to-back games with Ark getting the nod for Special Teams Player of the Week for his punting performance against Grand Valley State in week four.

Tidwell, who hails from Detroit, Michigan, had a big game on defense for the Huskies in Saturday's 24-20 win over Northern Michigan. Tidwell matched a season high with 10 tackles and had two pass breakups while disrupting the Northern Michigan passing and running games on numerous occasions. On a Glacier Wallington interception, Tidwell knocked the ball up in the air, allowing Wallington to make the pick. Five of his stops were solo tackles and he leads the Huskies in tackles this year with 39. In addition, he has an interception, five pass breakups and a forced fumble. He is averaging 7.8 tackles per game this season.

Gornick, a native of Fenton, Michigan, had a solid performance for the Huskies kicking the football in the win over Northern Michigan. Gornick connected on all three of his extra points and made a 29-yard field goal to give Tech a 10-0 lead early in the second quarter of Saturday's game. Gornick also kicked off five times for 238 total yards and had one touchback during the contest. On the season, Gornick has made four field goal attempts and 10 extra points while averaging 55 yards per kickoff with five touchbacks.

The Huskies have forced at least one turnover in each of the first five games as the team embarks on the second half of the season Saturday at Davenport. Tech got rolling in the right direction in the takeaway category in week one at Hillsdale when the defense created two fumble recoveries and two interceptions. Tech added two more picks and a fumble the following week at McKendree. The special teams recovered a botched snap on a punt for a touchdown against Grand Valley State in week four along an interception at Saginaw Valley State in week three. The Huskies also generated an interception against the Wildcats last week to keep the turnover streak going. Senior Glacier Wallington's fourth quarter takeaway with 5:55 to go helped the Huskies preserve their lead against NMU which ultimately led to the 24-20 victory.

Michigan Tech has started strong in each of the first five games this season. The Huskies have scored first in four of the five contests and did not face a deficit at halftime until this past Saturday's game against Northern Michigan. Tech boasts a record of 3-1 in games where they are the first team to score. The solid play has continued late into the game with the Huskies leading going into the fourth quarter in three of the five games. Three of the five games in 2019 have also been decided by 1-10 points.

The Michigan Tech special teams continued to shine this past week against Northern Michigan. Gornick connected on all three of his extra points and had a 29-yard field goal to give the Huskies a 10-0 lead early in the second quarter. Ark boomed another punt over 60 yards with this attempt traveling a season long 66 yards. Ark goes into week six averaging 44.9 yards per punt with eight landing inside the 20-yard line. The Huskies were also able to sniff out a fake punt that the Wildcats tried to pull off this past Saturday. A direct snap to the upback Jack Reiger resulted in a five-yard loss by Northern Michigan. The last time an opponent attempted a fake punt against Tech was Tony Hite of Northwood on October 13th, 2012.

Career records fell for Ark and senior wide receiver Jacob Wenzlick in last Saturday's 24-20 victory against Northern Michigan. Ark matched a season and career high with 21 completions along with three touchdown passes in the win. Ark's total yardage passing added up to a new career best of 347 yards and his touchdown total now stands at six this year, ranking him fifth in the GLIAC. Ark is tops in the conference in passing yards per game at 206.8. Wenzlick was Ark's favorite target on Saturday as the senior from Sanford, Michigan matched a career high with nine receptions while creating a new single game career high yardage total of 213 yards. In addition, Wenzlick caught two of Ark's touchdown passes. The single game Tech record for reception yards in a game is 247 set by Brian Janeshek at Indianapolis on October 17th, 2003. Wenzlick leads the GLIAC in reception yards per game (80.0) and is tied for third along with senior wide receiver Ben Hartley with three touchdown catches each.

Davenport is 3-2 overall and 1-2 in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference coming into Saturday's game with the Huskies. The Panthers began the year 3-0 with wins over Lake Erie 13-9, Northern Michigan 21-7, and Lindenwood 35-24. Davenport has suffered back to back losses, including a 30-27 loss at Ashland University last weekend. The Panthers first setback of the year occurred at home against Ferris State in a 35-7 decision on October 5th. Davenport boasts a potent offense, ranking third in the GLIAC in passing yards per game (202.0) and fourth in touchdown passes (7). Davenport has also recorded points 90 percent of the time when they have reached the red zone, which is tops in the GLIAC. Last week at Ashland, the Panthers had touchdown plays of 99 and 92 yards so they have the ability to strike quick. The Panthers are averaging 307.0 yards and 20.6 points per game while allowing 297.8 yards and 21.0 points per game to opponents.

Junior quarterback Denondre Ford powers the offense for Davenport, completing 74 passes for 1,000 yards and seven touchdowns so far in 2019. Ford ranks second in the GLIAC in passing yards per game with 200.0 and is tied for second in the conference with seven touchdown passes. His favorite target this year has been Nate Couturier who has reeled in 19 catches for 304 yards and two scores. Michael Catching is Davenport's leading rusher with a 53.3 yards per game average this year on 46 total carries, including two touchdowns. Senior linebacker Kye Black is the leading tackler on defense via 45.0 total tackles through five games. He is averaging nine tackles per game and has four tackles for a loss. Junior defensive back Deion Powers has 30 stops and three interceptions for the Panthers.

Michigan Tech and Davenport have each won a game in the brief all-time series between the two clubs. Saturday's game will be the first to be played at Davenport. In the first ever meeting between the two teams in Houghton on October 28th, 2017, the Huskies held off the Panthers for a 17-10 win. The Huskies had big plays from the defense, special teams, and the offense on their way to an important conference win. Kevin Kirkland had an 18-yard touchdown reception off a pass from Garrett Young and Eric Kostreva returned a kickoff 93 yards for the other touchdown. It's also the most recent kickoff return for a touchdown for Tech. Gornick provided the other points that day on a 34-yard field goal in the fourth quarter.

The Huskies and Panthers played earlier in the 2018 season on September 15th with Davenport rallying late for a 23-21 win. The Panthers scored 13 unanswered points in the fourth quarter after the Huskies had built a 21-10 advantage. The Panthers had the go-ahead touchdown with just 10 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter on a fourth and seven play from the Tech 12 yard line. Ark led the Huskies' offense, completing 15 passes for 264 yards and two touchdowns while strong safety Braxton Blackwell led the defense with 10 tackles, including a tackle for a loss and one pass breakup.

The Huskies named their four captains for the 2019 season prior to the start of the regular season. This year's captains, selected by a team vote, are offensive lineman Jeremy Bell, defensive back Travis Tidwell, wide receiver Jacob Wenzlick, and linebacker Marshael Ryan. All four players are entering their senior year with the Huskies.

Michigan Tech leads the GLIAC and is fourth in NCAA Division II in sacks (22), first in passing yards per game (206.8), is third in time of possession (31:38), third in fumble recoveries (4), third in fourth down conversions (9-13), first in punting (44.9), and first in punt return average (10.3). The Huskies are first in the GLIAC (7th NCAA II) in fewest sacks allowed (3) and tackles for a loss allowed (16) (3rd NCAA II). Nate LaJoie is tops in the conference (4th NCAA II) in total sacks with 6.5, LaJoie is first in tackles for a loss (10) (10th NCAA II), Xavier Ciardo is third in sacks (4.5) and Jacob Wenzlick is first in the league in receiving yards per game with 80.0. Ark leads the conference (4th NCAA II) in punting (44.9) and is tops in the conference in passing yards per game (206.8).

Michigan Tech Head Coach Steve Olson is getting set to embark on his third season at the reigns of the program when the Huskies kickoff their season Saturday at Hillsdale. The Huskies went 4-6 in 2018, but retained the Miner's Cup for the ninth straight year with a 35-33 win at Northern Michigan. This will be Olson's ninth overall season as a coach at Tech. He served as the defensive coordinator for three seasons prior to being selected as the head coach for the 2017 season.

The Huskies welcomed Jace Daniels to the coaching staff as the new offensive line coach during the offseason. Daniels, a native of Escanaba, Michigan, brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the Huskies staff. Over the past two seasons at Northern Michigan, Daniels led an offensive line that created running lanes for Jake Mayon who earned Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Offensive Back of the Year honors in back-to-back seasons. Three of his offensive linemen garnered All-Conference accolades during his two seasons. Daniels helped coach a Northern Michigan offense that ranked second in the GLIAC during the 2018 campaign in rushing yards per game (241.8), yards per carry (5.0), rushing touchdowns (29), and first downs gained on the ground (146). The total offensive yardage for the Wildcats this past season was the third most in the GLIAC at 381.1 yards per game.

The Huskies remain on the road next weekend when they travel to Ohio to battle Ashland University in game seven of the regular season. The Eagles edged Davenport at home last week 30-27 and are in Detroit this Saturday night to face Wayne State University. The Eagles are 4-2 overall and 3-1 in the GLIAC, good for a tie for second in the conference standings with Grand Valley State. Ashland University is receiving votes in the most recent AFCA Top 25 Poll.