MIDLAND, Mich. – The Michigan Tech football team came up empty at Northwood University 17-3 in Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference action Saturday afternoon. The Huskies had to try and play catchup most of the day after a Timberwolves touchdown with just under 10 minutes to go in the first quarter put them on top. Unfortunately, it was an advantage that Northwood wouldn't relinquish.
"Right now we are struggling a little bit to find that groove offensively, where we are staying on the field to convert third downs and move the chains," Michigan Tech Defensive Coordinator and Interim Head Coach for this weekend Steve Olson said. "We have a good offensive football team and they'll get it figured out and keep working hard. We made some mistakes defensively as well and we'll go back and look at the film and clean those up. We'll go to work on the things we need to fix on all sides of the ball and figure it out. We have great kids and they work hard. We have three games left in the UP and I'm confident that we will play very hard and play very well in those last three games. Next week will be an exciting game against Ashland and it will be at home. They are a very good football team and we are going to take our best shot to get a win."
Both teams struggled to find traction offensively in the first quarter with the two sides combining for three drives of three and out with an additional five play drive mixed in. Northwood (2-6, 2-6 GLIAC) broke through for points on their third drive of the afternoon and the keys to the possession were a couple big plays. The Timberwolves took over on their own 45-yard line after a Michigan Tech punt and found the end zone six plays later. Quarterback Joe Garbarino shot through a seam and went 35 yards to the Tech eight-yard line. Then on the next snap, he found the end zone for a 7-0 Northwood advantage.
Michigan Tech's (2-5, 2-5 GLIAC) first big opportunity to crack the goal line came on a drive that started late in the first quarter and moved into the second quarter. The Huskies were able to work the ball down to the Northwood five-yard line, but a fourth down run by quarterback Brandon Cowie was stopped by Cameron Englund of the Timberwolves' defense short of the marker.
The Huskies' defense stopped the Timberwolves offense on three plays, forcing them to punt deep from their own end zone on the ensuing drive. Michigan Tech took control of the ball at midfield and marched down to the Northwood 11-yard line. Cowie completed passes of 12 and 8 yards to running back James Henderson to get things rolling. Henderson then reeled off a run of 13 yards to bring the ball inside the 20, helping setup a 28-yard field goal by Josh King who is now 7 for 8 on the year. The triple by King made it a 7-3 score with 7:05 remaining on the first half clock.
The Timberwolves threatened to score again late in the second quarter, but defensive back Cory Williams picked off a Garbarino pass at the Huskies three-yard line to thwart the Northwood offense. However, with 53 seconds left in the third quarter, Keegan Haggarty extended the Timberwolves lead to 10-3 on a 36-yard field. Then with 6:38 on the clock in the fourth quarter, running back Corey Burdgick broke loose for a 77-yard touchdown run on a third and one to move the gap to the eventual final tally of 17-3.
The Huskies had some other chances inside Northwood territory, but some costly turnovers and a fumble stopped the offense. It looked like Tech was headed for the end zone when wide receiver Ian Fischer caught a 30 pass from Cowie at the three-yard line, but Charles Proctor forced the ball out and it took an unlucky bounce out of the end zone for a Timberwolves touchback. The Northwood defense also made some plays to stop the Huskies on some third and fourth down scenarios in the second half.
Cowie completed 22 of 37 pass attempts for 224 yards while Henderson carried the ball for 49 yards on seven touches, averaging seven yards per run. He also caught three passes for 26 yards. Fischer led the Huskies by hauling in six passes for 95 yards. He averaged 15.8 yards per catch, which is his second highest yards per catch average in a game this season. Wide receiver David Walter also grabbed five passes for 73 yards on the day. As a team, the Huskies had 309 yards of total offense.
On the defensive side of the ball, linebacker Marvin Wright anchored the team with nine tackles, including of the solo variety. Linebacker Ben Tauchen had eight stops followed by defensive back Derek Cingel, Williams, and Cayman Berg-Morales with five stops each. Williams recorded his first interception of the 2016 campaign and Berg-Morales led the Huskies with three tackles for a loss. On special teams, punter Ryan VanGoethem dropped five kicks inside the 20-yard line and King made his only field goal opportunity.
Garbarino paced the Northwood offense, going 8 of 17 through the air for 117 yards. On the ground he carried the ball 16 times for 68 yards and a touchdown. Burdgick had six carries for 74 yards and touchdown. Receiver Theron Wilson caught two passes for 42 yards and on defense Michael Fisher had 12 tackles and two pass breakups. The Timberwolves had 304 yards of offense on Saturday afternoon.
The Huskies will return to Houghton and the friendly confines of Sherman Field next week when they host Ashland University. The kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m.