DETROIT, Mich. – The Michigan Tech football team fell at Wayne State 35-14 in the final Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference road game of the year Saturday afternoon. The Huskies and Warriors were deadlocked at 7-7 through one quarter, but Wayne State went up 28-7 at halftime and stopped a late charge by the Huskies in the fourth quarter.
"I thought we stopped the run really well, especially in the second half, and offensively we were able to move the ball," Michigan Tech Head Coach Steve Olson said. "I don't think the final score indicates how close the two teams are and it's unfortunate we weren't able to come away with a win. There are things that we have to be better at and continue to work at as we move forward into practice this week. We'll look to regroup as we get set to face a good Northwood team that has played hard all season long. They have had some close competitive games throughout the season and we have to be ready to play a full game against a team that will also be hungry to get a win."
Wayne State (7-3, 6-1 GLIAC) got the ball first on Saturday and went 75-yards on the opening drive to move in front 7-0. The Warriors kept the ball on the ground for seven of the eight plays on the drive, which was capped by James Hill's 12th rushing touchdown of the year with 11:06 on the clock.
Michigan Tech (4-5, 2-5 GLIAC) quickly countered and tied the game on the ensuing drive. Sophomore tailback Jared Smith bolted ahead on the first play for 14-yards to set the offense in motion. Freshman quarterback Steele Fortress then hit freshman running back Emmett Boehler on a 13-yard screen pass followed by a 10-yard strike to senior wide receiver Jacob Wenzlick. Fortress and the Tech offense then engineered another screen pass, this time landing in the hands of freshman tailback William Marano for a 14-yard touchdown with 7:31 to play in the first quarter.
The game remained tied until the second quarter when the Warriors found the end zone on the first of three consecutive touchdowns. Quarterback Dakota Kupp scrambled for a 21-yard touchdown run at the 10:51 mark to grant Wayne State a 14-7 edge. Kupp then connected with wide receiver Darece Roberson on a 65-yard touchdown pass to make it 21-7 with 7:01 to play before the break and then capped the half with another scoring pass of 29 yards to Roberson with 1:59 showing on the clock.
Trailing 28-7 to begin the third quarter, the Huskies had some work to do but were still within striking distance with plenty of time left on the clock. The Huskies' defense made some key stops and kept the Wayne State offense off balance and off track. Tech's offense was able to move the ball consistently in the third quarter, but Wayne State's defense managed to shut the door to any further scoring.
The Huskies were able to break through for their second touchdown of the game in the fourth quarter when they went 70 yards on eight plays for the score. Tech got the screen pass working again when Fortress found Marano for 11 yards to set the direction of the drive. Facing a first down and 10 at the Wayne State 23-yard line, Fortress dialed in an 18-yard pass to junior wide receiver Jordan Janssen to put the ball down at the five. Marano then got the call on the ground and powered his way across the goal line for his second touchdown of the game. The extra point by senior kicker Evan Gornick was good to make it a 28-14 contest with 3:26 left in the fourth quarter.
The Huskies tried an onside kick, but the Warriors were able to recover at their own 40-yard line. However, the Tech defense produced a stop against the Wayne State attack and the Huskies had the ball back at their 11-yard line with 2:20 still to play. Unfortunately, the Warriors were able to get a sack and then a Tech turnover in the end zone resulted in another touchdown for the Warriors with 1:55 left, resulting in the 35-14 final.
Fortress completed 25 of 44 passes for 283 yards and one touchdown to help guide the Michigan Tech offense on Saturday. Marano recorded a team high 76 yards on seven carries leading to a 10.9 yards per carry average. Marano had one rushing touchdown and also caught two passes for 25 yards and another touchdown. Wenzlick was the leading receiver on Saturday with six catches for 96 yards. As a team, the Huskies had 386 yards of total offense.
Sophomore Braxton Blackwell and senior Travis Tidwell each tallied seven total tackles to pace the defense. Blackwell had one tackle for a loss and one pass breakup while Tidwell collected 1.5 tackles for a loss. Sophomore linebacker Clayton Lynn had five solo tackles which included a sack and two tackles for a loss. As a team, the Huskies ended the day with one sack and nine tackles for lost yardage.
Kupp completed 12 of 16 pass attempts for 202 yards and two touchdowns while adding 27 yards and a third score with his feet. Deiontae Nicholas carried the ball 18 times for 105 yards to power the Warriors rushing attack. Roberson was Kupp's favorite target in the passing game, reeling in six receptions for 121 yards and both of Kupp's touchdown tosses. Defensively, linebacker Leon Eggleston had a game high 14 tackles, two sacks, and 3.5 tackles for a loss. The Warriors combined for eight sacks and 15 tackles for a loss in Saturday's contest.
The Huskies return home next Saturday to play Northwood University in the 2019 season finale at Sherman Field and Kearly Stadium. The kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m. eastern time.