Huskies Ready for Week Two Showdown at McKendree



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Sep 12, 2019   

Marquette, Mich. (WJMN) –   Michigan Tech Game Notes (PDF)
Sat., Sept. 14, 2019 • 2:00 p.m. (ET) • Leemon Field (2,000)
Michigan Tech (1-0, 0-0 GLIAC) at McKendree (0-1, 0-0 GLVC)
Radio Broadcast: WKMJ 93.5 FM (Josh Ylitalo, Kirk McDonnell)
Audio Webcast:
Live Stats:

The Huskies defeated Hillsdale 29-14 in the 2019 season opener Saturday afternoon on the road. The Huskies held the Chargers to 160 yards of total offense and negative nine yards rushing over the course of 60 minutes. Tech has now won a season opener for the 10th straight time dating back to 2010 when they defeated Lake Erie College 42-13. The Huskies struck first on a 41-yard field goal by senior Evan Gornick before the Chargers countered with a touchdown. Tech eventually seized the momentum late in the first half, scoring two touchdowns on a pair of Will Ark passes to Ben Hartley in the final 30 seconds of the second quarter. The Huskies defense kept Hillsdale’s offense grounded throughout on the game.

One of the points of emphasis for the Huskies during the offseason was to generate more turnovers on defense this year and that hard work paid off against Hillsdale. Tech finished the day with a pair of fumble recoveries and two interceptions. Michael Betz had his first career takeaway in the opening quarter Saturday, stepping in front of a Luke Keller pass which setup the 41-yard Gornick field goal. Late in the second quarter, the Huskies recovered a fumbled kickoff return leading to a 26-yard touchdown pass from Ark to Hartley, creating a 23-7 Tech advantage at the intermission. The Huskies defense had just six takeaway’s all last season so week one’s total is a great start for 2019.

In addition to all the turnovers in week one, the defense completely shutdown the Hillsdale offensive attack. On top of the limited yardage totals, the Chargers were just 2 of 11 on third down conversions and had the ball for only 18:51. Keller was consistently under pressure and the running lanes were very limited due to multiple excellent performances from the middle of the Huskies defense. Time of possession was heavily in Tech’s favor thanks in large part to the defense getting off the field quickly and putting the ball back into the hands of the offense.

The Huskies offense racked up 411 yards of total offense in week one and ran the ball for 214 yards in the 29-14 win at Hillsdale. Sophomore running back Jared Smith picked right up where he left off last season, leading Tech’s ground assault with 172 yards on 29 carries and one touchdown. The offensive line, much like the Tech defensive front, dominated the line of scrimmage which opened up running lanes while giving quarterback Will Ark plenty of time to throw the football. Ark ended up completing 21 passes for 197 yards and two scores. He also ran for an additional touchdown on a fourth and goal play early in the second quarter for Tech’s first touchdown of the day.Hartley led the receiving corp with six catches for 81 yards and two touchdowns. Six different players had at least one catch for Tech in the win.

There are three phases in a football game and special teams, although easy to overlook at times, can make the difference in games. This past Saturday, Gornick connected on a 41-yard field goal to get the Huskies on the board. Gornick then did an excellent job of sending a kickoff late in the second quarter high in the air and short into some open space in the Chargers kick return unit. Hillsdale fumbled the kick and junior Hunter Richards recovered at the Hillsdale 26-yard line. Two plays later, the Huskies were in the end zone for their third touchdown of the first half and 23-7 lead.

McKendree is coming off a 30-9 setback against Northern Michigan last Saturday in their season opener in Marquette. The Wildcats led 10-9 at halftime and then piled up 20 unanswered points in the second half to pull away. McKendree quarterback Turner Pullen completed 15 of 26 passes for 133 yards with one touchdown and one interception in the game. Jace Franklin was the leading rusher with 45 yards on 16 attempts while Jacob Bachman hauled in five receptions for 50 yards and one touchdown. Meanwhile on defense, Ricco Gipson had 14 tackles and a forced fumble for the Bearcats.

McKendree entered the year having won six games in 2018 on the way to a 6-5 overall record and 4-3 mark in the Great Lakes Valley Conference. The Bearcats lost some key weapons on offense, including running back Preston Thompson who rushed for 1,073 yards and nine touchdowns in 2018. Quarterback Reece Metcalf also graduated after finishing his senior season completing 187 passes for 2,622 yards and 27 touchdowns compared to just four interceptions. The offense averaged 444.5 yards per game last year, but the McKendree defense surrendered 462.5 yards to opposing offenses in 2018. The Bearcats averaged just over 35 points per game and gave up the same amount on defense. Many of McKendree’s top players on defense from a year ago are back, including Gipson, who paced the team with 106 total stops from his linebacker position.

Saturday’s game will be the first ever meeting between McKendree and Michigan Tech. The Bearcats began a series last season with Northern Michigan which continued this past Saturday in Marquette. The only other current GLIAC teams McKendree has ever played are Ferris State and Davenport. Former GLIAC member opponents include Findlay, Hillsdale, Malone, Ohio Dominican, Tiffin, and Walsh. McKendree has played Ohio Dominican the most going 2-2 against the Panthers dating back to when both teams competed in the NAIA.

The Huskies named their four captains for the 2019 season prior to last week’s game at Hillsdale. 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 received votes in the first regular season 2019 American Football Coaches Association Division II Coaches’ Poll, released Monday afternoon. Five total Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference teams are ranked or receiving votes in the poll this week, including two teams who made their way into the top 10. Ferris State checks in at No.2 following a 24-23 win over Findlay in week one. Grand Valley State University checks in at No. 10 after defeating Edinboro 35-10 to kick off the season. Ashland, Saginaw Valley State, and Michigan Tech are the teams receiving votes this week.

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 2019 season will once again feature two alumni reunions. The 1969 NIC Conference Championship team will have their 50th reunion Homecoming Weekend September 27-28 which will be highlighted with multiple events and Tech’s showdown with Grand Valley State University. The 1989 Alumni Reunion will be Oct. 11-12 when the Huskies take on Northern Michigan in the annual Miner’s Cup Game. This reunion will feature a number of great events as well.

Football VIP packs are available in 2 packs or 4 packs which include tickets, parking, game program, four beverages, and a buffet. The VIP Pavilion opens 90 minutes before  gametime with the first home game scheduled for September 28th at 1pm against Grand Valley State. Season tickets and great seats are still available for football, volleyball, basketball and hockey. To purchase your tickets go online to or call 906-487-2073.

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.

Michigan Tech begins the journey through the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference schedule next Saturday at Saginaw Valley State. The Cardinals are 1-0 to start the 2019 campaign thanks to a 35-14 victory at Texas A&M-Kingsville last week. Saginaw Valley State has their home opener this Saturday against former GLIAC member Tiffin University. In week one of the year, five GLIAC teams won their overall season opener. Next week’s kickoff against the Cardinals is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. eastern time.

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