CALEDONIA, Mich. – The Michigan Tech football team struck early and often on the way to a 30-point first half and 30-17 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic conference win at Davenport University Saturday afternoon. The Huskies defense created four turnovers, including an interception by senior Michael Betz on the Panthers opening drive, leading to Tech's first touchdown of the game. Davenport would never recover and the Huskies notched their third road win of the season.
"This was a great win for our team on the road and I'm very proud of the effort of our players," Michigan Tech Head Coach Steve Olson said. "We played really well in the first half and our ability to create four turnovers was a big key to the game. Our ability to move the ball on offense and put points on the board to take advantage of the turnovers was also big. It was an awesome first half, we could have done a little better in the second half, but we'll take this win and get ourselves ready to play at Ashland next week.
"There are some things we can get better at and need to get better at in order to be ready to face two really good teams in Ashland and Ferris State the next couple of weeks. It's a great feeling to be playing well, especially on the road, and we are excited for the opportunity to get back on the field next week at Ashland."
Michigan Tech (4-2, 2-2 GLIAC) won the coin toss but deferred to the second half, putting the defense on the field for the first drive of Saturday's game. The defense didn't stay on the turf for long thanks to the third interception of the year by Betz. Davenport (3-3, 1-3 GLIAC) quarterback Deondre Ford didn't see Betz in the passing lane when he unloaded the ball. Betz broke on the pass and reeled it in at the Panther's 43-yard line, returning it 12-yards to the 31. Two plays later, junior quarterback Will Ark found senior wide receiver Ben Hartley on an 18-yard touchdown pass to give the Huskies the 7-0 lead.
The Panthers went three and out on their second drive and the Huskies quickly took possession of the ball again on their 37-yard line. The Tech offense chewed up 63 yards on five plays on the way to the second touchdown of the contest. Ark connected with junior wide receiver Jordan Janssen on pass plays of 15 yards and 18 yards to bring the ball down to the Davenport 11-yard line. Ark then went up top to Hartley for the touchdown and with Gornick's extra point, Tech's advantage grew to 14-0 with 8:42 to play in the first quarter.
The Huskies' defense continued to keep the Davenport attack off balance, stopping the Panthers on the ensuing drive to force another punt. Junior Nathan Beining sacked Ford for a loss of eight yards and the Huskies were able to take over at their 47-yard line following a solid punt return by senior Jacob Wenzlick. Tech then covered 47-yards on eight plays and took 5:24 off the clock, producing a 22-yard field goal by Gornick on the final play of the first quarter.
Leading 17-0 late in the second quarter, the Huskies' defense generated another turnover inside Panthers territory. Senior Glacier Wallington stripped the ball out of the hands of Gabe Ford at the 40-yard line and Beining fell on it to bring the Huskies offense back on the field with 5:49 remaining in the half. Wallington snared his second interception in as many weeks earlier in the second quarter.
Freshman running back Emmett Boehler bolted through the line for seven yards on the first play from scrimmage and then Tech went to the air again for touchdown number three. Hartley took a lateral pass from Ark and then found Janssen wide open down the field for the score. It was Janssen's first touchdown catch of the year and first touchdown pass for Hartley this season. Gornick's extra point was blocked, making it a 23-0 lead for Tech with 5:02 to go until the break.
The Panthers quickly coughed up the ball again on their next drive when freshman Samuel Kinne pried the ball loose from the hands of Ford on a sack. Junior Nate LaJoie recovered the ball at the Davenport 39-yard line. Sophomore running back Jared Smith powered his way down the field for 28-yards which setup his own one-yard touchdown run with 1:22 showing on the second quarter clock. The extra point was good and Tech increased the gap to 30-0.
Davenport chipped away at Tech's lead in the second half, but the Huskies were able to limit the Panthers to just 17-points. Davenport got on the board first on a blocked punt that resulted in a safety followed by a Lorenzo White touchdown run with 10:50 left in the third quarter. It remained a 30-9 lead for Tech until late in the fourth quarter when quarterback Haiden Majewski completed a seven-yard touchdown pass to Nate Couturier with only 1:11 remaining in the game. The two-point conversion was successful, resulting in the 30-17 final score.
Although the Huskies didn't score, they were able to move the ball and take time off the clock. Tech had one drive in the fourth quarter that lasted for 7:42 and limited Davenport's scoring opportunities. Meanwhile, the defense contained the Panthers and halted their ability to strike quickly on drives.
Ark helped guide the Huskies offense on Saturday, completing 15 passes for 185 yards and two touchdowns. Ark started the game 9 for 9 through the air and now has eight touchdown passes on the season. Janssen had a season high 104 yards receiving on four catches that included his first touchdown of the year. Hartley followed with four catches for 46 yards and two touchdowns. He also tossed the 33-yard touchdown pass to Janssen in the first half. Boehler had 63 yards rushing on 18 carries while Smith added 45 yards on 10 carries with one touchdown.
As a team, the Huskies had 339 yards of total offense, with 218 coming through the air and 121 on the ground. Tech had the edge in time of possession at 34:15 compared to Davenport's time with the football of 25:45. The Huskies did not give up a sack and committed just one turnover in Saturday's game.
Senior Travis Tidwell led the defense with nine total tackles, had a half tackle for a loss, and consistently disrupted Davenport's passing attack. Betz followed with eight tackles and one interception, senior linebacker Marshael Ryan produced seven tackles, and Wallington had five tackles which included a tackle for a loss, forced fumble, and one interception. Senior Xavier Ciardo had two tackles for a loss and a half sack while Kinne, LaJoie, and Beining each got to the quarterback as well. As a team, the Huskies had three sacks, eight tackles for a loss, and four turnovers.
Majewski completed 16 of 26 passes for 178 yards and one touchdown, with his favorite target being Keion Powers who reeled in five receptions for 52 yards. Couturier ended the game with four receptions for 44 yards and one touchdown. Majewski also led the Panthers in rushing with 25 yards on six carries. Davenport closed the day with 260 yards of total offense.
Liam Cavanaugh paced the defense with a team high 12 tackles followed by Deion Powers with nine total stops. Brandon Mangram had six tackles, an interception, and blocked an extra point attempt.
The Huskies are back on the road next weekend when they travel to Ohio to take on Ashland University in another GLIAC showdown. The kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m. eastern time.