SAGINAW, Mich. – The Michigan Tech football team rallied from a 10-point deficit to claim a 28-24 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference victory at Saginaw Valley State Saturday afternoon. The Huskies trailed 24-14 going into the fourth quarter, but 14 unanswered points on a pair of John Williams touchdown runs made up the difference.
"We told our kids it was going to be a 60-minute game and we had to hang together and play for the full four quarters which we did," Michigan Tech Head Coach Steve Olson said. "We made some key stops on defense when we needed to and our offense produced and scored. It was a great comeback win for us today.
"This was a great team effort today and I'm proud of our players and our coaching staff. The way they handled the adversity that we knew they were going to face today was outstanding. They battled through it like a family and that's what we were hoping for. We know this is a tough conference and we know each game is going to be tough. I was really proud our guys and their effort."
Michigan Tech (2-2, 1-1 GLIAC) opened the game with the football and aggressively went to the air. Junior quarterback Jake Brown completed back to back passes to sophomore wide receiver Jacob Wenzlick to get things rolling. The drive stalled at the Saginaw Valley State (2-2, 0-2 GLIAC) 49-yard line, but it gave sophomore punter Michael James the opportunity to pin the Cardinals deep at their own two.
The Huskies' defense forced Saginaw Valley into a three and out and following a 16-yard punt return by Wenzlick, Tech setup shop at the Cardinals 29-yard line. On the first play from scrimmage, senior running back John Williams sprinted through a hole created by the right side of the offensive line and straight to the end zone for a 7-0 Huskies lead.
However, Saginaw Valley State answered back on their very next drive to eventually tie the score at 7-7. The Cardinals marched 81 yards on 11 plays which culminated on a Ryan Conklin 13-yard pass to Marcus Edmondson for the score. The Cardinals had driven all the way to the one-yard line before being pushed back for what would be a third and goal touchdown pass.
The Tech offense was forced to punt on the next drive, but once again James pinned SVSU inside the 10 at their own six-yard line. The Cardinals powered the ball all the way down to the Huskies' two, but were forced to kick a field goal.
Senior defensive lineman Cayman Berg-Morales halted running back Nate McCrary for a loss of two on first and goal from the two. Berg-Morales and sophomore defensive back Glacier Wallington held McCrary out of the end zone again on second down and then Conklin threw incomplete on third down. Alex Kenrick did connect on a 20-yard field goal to make it a 10-7 game with 7:38 left in the second quarter, but it could have been more. The drive lasted 16 plays and took 8:34 off the clock.
The 10-7 score carried into the second half with the Cardinals getting possession to start the third quarter. The Huskies' defense stonewalled SVSU's offense on three plays and got the ball back into the hands of the offense.
The Huskies resumed command on their own 12-yard line and engineered their longest scoring drive of the season so far. They moved 88-yards on eight plays, which was capped by a 19-yard touchdown pass from Brown to senior wide receiver David Falish. Brown also completed a 19-yard pass to Wenzlick and reeled off 16-yards on the ground to set up the touchdown strike to make it 14-10 with 9:48 to go in the third.
Unfortunately, the remainder of the third quarter would belong to the Cardinals. They would score touchdowns on their next two possessions to go up by two scores at 24-14 with 53 seconds on the clock. McCrary broke loose for a 30-yard touchdown run and then running back Tommy Scott Jr. crossed the goal line from 13 yards away for the second score.
Michigan Tech began the comeback with 11:01 left in the fourth quarter when they took over possession on their 34-yard line. Needing to move quickly down by 10 points, the Huskies did just that. Brown completed a nine-yard pass to Wenzlick to start and on third and one, powered his way 48-yards on the ground down to the SVSU nine-yard line. Williams filled the role of fullback, leading the way for Brown on the draw play. Williams capped the drive with a nine-yard touchdown run to bring the Huskies within three again at 24-21. The drive went 66-yards in five plays and took just 1:45 off the clock.
Saginaw Valley State took the ensuing kickoff and went on another time consuming drive that chewed up 5:28 off the clock. The Cardinals got the ball inside the red zone, but were stopped on a third and two play at the Huskies 11-yard line. Tech forced a field goal attempt which was blocked by Marvin Wright and kept the score at 24-21 with 3:48 to play. It was the second missed field goal attempt for the Cardinals in the game, which would prove to be huge.
The Huskies took over on their 20-yard and with two time outs remaining methodically moved down the field. Brown completed a pair of key passes to Failsh and then Williams ran the ball down to the SVSU 36-yard line with 1:40 to go. Tech called one of their two timeouts and setup a 31-yard pass play from Brown to Wenzlick, bringing the ball down to the five-yard line. On the very next snap, Williams made a defender miss and jolted into the end zone for what would be the game winning touchdown, his third of the day.
The Cardinals still had 1:08 on the clock to work with meaning there was still work for the Tech defense to do. Conklin opened up the drive with a pass completion to Alfonso Vultaggio for 15-yards, putting the ball at midfield. Senior defensive back Mitchell Ryan then made a huge defensive play when he dislodged the ball from Vultaggio with a big hit on the next pass attempt.
Sophomore defensive lineman Mattias Hoehnen followed with consecutive sacks of Conklin to push the ball all the way back to the SVSU 29-yard line. Facing fourth and 31 at the 29, Conklin's deep pass down the sideline was incomplete and a kneel down by the Huskies' offense with 26 seconds left sealed the victory.
Williams ended the day with 116 yards and three touchdowns to power the Tech offense while sophomore wide receiver Jacob Wenzlick hauled in a career high eight catches for 97 yards. Falish had three catches for 43-yards, including his first touchdown of the season. Meanwhile, Brown wrapped up the day completing 15 passes for 159 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions. He also carried the ball four times for 72 yards.
As a team, the Huskies racked up 366 yards of total offense with 207 coming on the ground and 159 through the air attack.
Senior Spencer Moran had a career high 15 tackles to help lead the defense on Saturday. Senior Derek Cingel finished with a season best 10 tackles, while sophomore defensive back Travis Tidwell, Wright, and sophomore linebacker Tyler Jacqmain added eight tackles apiece. Hoehnen had five stops and a career best 2.5 sacks and three tackles for a loss. Wright had two tackles for a loss, a pass breakup, and the blocked field goal.
Conklin was 16 for 26 passing for 185 yards and one touchdown to pace the Cardinals attack. McCrary had 98-yards rushing and a score followed by Scott Jr. with 81 yards and one touchdown. Chad Gailliard had three catches for 47 yards. SVSU ended the afternoon with 381 yards of total offense.
Defensively, Dillon Dixon and Bryan Jones shared the team lead in tackles with six apiece. Jones added a tackle for a loss and Dixon had one pass breakup.
The Huskies will be back in action on Saturday when they host Northern Michigan University in the annual Miner's Cup game at Sherman Field. The kickoff is slated for 7 p.m.