ALLENDALE, Mich. – The Michigan Tech football team suffered a 45-20 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference loss Saturday night at fifth ranked Grand Valley State University. The Huskies were within three at 10-7 midway through the second quarter before three consecutive touchdowns by the Lakers created a gap that was too large to overcome.
"Our guys played hard and battled, but we made too many mistakes against a very good football team tonight," Michigan Tech Head Coach Steve Olson said. "You have to play a clean football game when you go up against a team like Grand Valley State in order to give yourself a chance to win.
"They were able to keep moving the chains with conversions on third downs and that hurt us tonight. We need to do a better job of coming up with stops to get our defense off the field. On offense, we did some nice things in the passing game, but we struggled to find consistency in our running game. Again, our players gave great effort tonight and we'll get back to work this week at practice to get ready for a big game at home against a good Saginaw Valley State team Saturday."
Grand Valley State (4-0, 2-0 GLIAC) had the first opportunity on offense Saturday night and grabbed a 3-0 lead on a J.J. McGrath 23-yard field goal. The Lakers moved the ball to the Michigan Tech (2-2, 0-2 GLIAC) six-yard line and threatened to find the end zone, but the defense held its ground, limiting the Lakers to three points.
The field goal by GVSU produced the only points of the first quarter, but early in the second the Lakers added to the lead on a seven-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Bart Williams to Jack Provencher with 11:35 on the clock. A Williams pass of 25 yards to Austin Paritee helped spark the drive that made it a 10-0 game.
The Huskies were able to get themselves back into the mix on the ensuing possession with a touchdown of their own. Senior wide receiver Jacob Wenzlick returned the kickoff 35-yards to give Tech solid field position at the 36-yard line to begin the drive. Sophomore quarterback Will Ark connected with Wenzlick on pass plays of 19 and 13 yards to help setup the Huskies at the GVSU 30-yard line. Facing a fourth and 10, Ark evaded pressure and rolling to his right fired a strike to Wenzlick in the back of the end zone for the score. Eric Zeboor's extra point was good to make it a 10-7 game with 8:39 left in the opening half.
Unfortunately, the first in the string of three unanswered Grand Valley State touchdowns went on the board three plays later. Williams dialed up the second of his five touchdown passes of the night, finding an open Nick Dodson for a 42-yard score to expand the gap back out to 10 points at 17-7. Williams and Dodson then teamed up again for an 8-yard touchdown pass with just over a minute to go in the second quarter, allowing the Lakers to carry a 24-7 advantage into the locker room at halftime.
The Huskies got the ball first to begin the second half, but the Grand Valley State defense forced a punt after Tech had picked up a couple of first downs. The Lakers then took over on their own 30-yard line and went 70 yards for a touchdown. Williams found Brandon Wadley for 28 yards and then hit Pete Cender over the middle from 20-yards out for the touchdown to make it a 31-7 game.
However, the Huskies kept battling and the offense got into the end zone for the second time with 5:27 to go in the third quarter. Ark had a 26-yard completion to Wenzlick that moved the ball into Lakers territory. Ark then found junior wide receiver Ben Hartley on a 12-yard pass which took the ball to the nine-yard line, setting the stage for a nine-yard touchdown pass to sophomore wide receiver Jordan Janssen, his first career touchdown catch.
Once again though, Grand Valley State answered right back with another touchdown drive that covered 76 yards in eight plays. Jack Provencher took the ball in on the ground this time to boost the Lakers lead to 38-13 with just under two minutes to go in the third quarter.
Early in the fourth quarter the Huskies special teams came up big with a blocked punt, the second so far in 2018. Freshman defensive back Kevin Lee rushed in from the left side to get a hand on it and freshman defensive back Tai Allen picked up the loose ball and took it to the GVSU 17-yard line. Three plays later Ark completed his third touchdown pass of the game, this time spotting Hartley in the end zone from 15-yards out to make it 38-20 with 11:19 left in the fourth.
Unfortunately, they would be the final points scored by the Huskies on Saturday night. The Lakers tacked on one more touchdown with 6:21 to play when Williams found Provencher on a nine-yard pass and catch, resulting in the final total of 45-20.
Ark guided the Huskies offense, completing 18 passes for 225 yards and three touchdowns. Ark now has six touchdown strikes through the first four games of the season. Wenzlick caught eight passes for 127 yards and touchdown followed by Hartley with five receptions for 57 yards and one touchdown. Janssen had the other touchdown catch for the Huskies Saturday.
Wenzlick added 169 return yards and a rushing yard to end the night with 297 all-purpose yards. He is averaging 225.0 all-purpose yards through the first four contests in 2018. Freshman running back Jared Smith had some quality carries in the fourth quarter and ended up with a team high 37 yards on six attempts. As a team, Michigan Tech had 279 yards of total offense with 225 coming through the air.
Junior linebacker Marvin Wright led the Tech defense with 15 total tackles, including one for a loss. Junior linebacker Marshael Ryan followed with 12 tackles, junior defensive back Michael Betz had 11, and freshman defensive back Braxton Blackwell collected 10 stops. Lee recorded five tackles, two pass breakups and one blocked kick.
Williams completed 23 of 37 passes for 382 yards and five touchdowns to power Grand Valley State's offense. Dodson had five receptions for 88 yards and two touchdowns, Provencher reeled in five passes for 52 yards and two TD's, and Cender grabbed the other Laker touchdown pass on his only reception of the evening. Chawntez Moss had 95 yards on 16 carries followed by Provencher with 68 yards on 13 attempts, including a rushing touchdown. The Lakers had 589 yards of total offense, converted for first downs on 11 of 16 third down plays, and possessed the ball for 35:15.
The Lakers defense was paced by Tyler Bradfield who had eight tackles, a pass breakup, and quarterback hurry. Jailyn Harden made six stops while Isaiah Nkansah had three tackles and a team high two tackles for a loss. The Lakers combined for two sacks and six tackles for a loss.
The Huskies will look to regroup on Saturday against Saginaw Valley State in the annual Homecoming game at Sherman Field. The Cardinals defeated Wayne State on Saturday at home in overtime 35-29. Saturday's kickoff at Sherman Field is scheduled for 1 p.m.