DETROIT — Senior Garrett Mead kicked four field goals including a 25-yard boot on the game’s final play to give Michigan Tech an 18-17 victory at Wayne State in the 2014 GLIAC football season opener tonight at Adams Field. The Huskies drove 69 yards in the final two minutes converting two fourth down plays along the way to earn the victory.
“Garrett drilled it,” said head coach Tom Kearly. “He had a great night and finished off a good football game for us. Both teams played hard, and I feel for (Wayne) Coach (Paul) Winters and their team right now. They played really well, especially on the defensive side of the ball.”
Tech’s hopes seemed dead on multiple occasions on the evening. Charlie Leffingwell scored on a screen pass to pull the Black and Gold within 17-15 at 5:36 of the fourth quarter but came up short on the conversion run. Then Wayne looked as though it would run out the clock on offense, getting down to the Huskies’ 33 with 2:04 remaining before finally punting. Tyler Scarlett then converted two fourth down passes—the second of which came after an incompletion was called back because of a Warriors’ offsides penalty.
On the final drive, Brandon Cowie had an eight-yard catch at midfield for a first down, then Leffingwell put the Huskies in field goal territory on a 23-yard screen pass catch and run. Andrew Clark and Cowie had receptions of 12 and 14 yards, respectively, as time was winding down. Leffingwell’s four-yard run put the ball at the eight. Tech called timeout with four seconds remaining, setting up Mead’s game winner.
“It felt good, and when I lifted my head it was sailing the right direction,” said Mead, whose four field goals in the game were one shy of his own school record set a year ago. “It’s the situation that kickers both love and dread. I was just trying to keep a clear head during the two-minute drive. Having gone three-for-three in the game up to that point definitely gave me confidence.”
Tech battled through an hour-long lightning delay and 90-degree field temperatures to move to 1-0 in GLIAC play. The Huskies have won five of their last six games vs. Wayne State. Today’s was the most dramatic.
The first half saw Tech hold possession of the ball for more than 21 of the first 30 minutes. The visitors converted only field goals in two trips to the red zone, however.
Mead capped off a 70-yard drive to open the game with a 23-yard field goal. The Warriors answered three plays later when Michael Johnson broke free after a catch and ran 63 yards for a touchdown.
WSU added a field goal later in the first quarter for a 10-3 advantage. Tech punted on its next possession but pinned the hosts inside their one-yard line. Before another play was run, the game was halted for lightning in the area.
Play resumed an hour later. The Black and Gold used the good field goal position to cash in another Mead field goal from 29 yards out.
After an abbreviated halftime, the teams continued to battle for field position. Tech managed to gash the Warriors defense for two big plays in a row. Leffingwell ran up the middle for 42 yards, then Cowie completed a 27-yard pass to Ian Fischer on a reverse pass. Despite being first and goal at the WSU five, Tech had to settle for another Mead field goal to pull within 10-9.
At the 11:02 mark of the fourth quarter, Wayne State made its lead 17-9 with an 11-play, 73-yard drive.
Tech was held on downs on its ensuing drive, but got the ball back three plays later on a Warrior fumble (the only turnover of the game). Tech then scored the final nine points on Leffingwell’s reception and Mead’s field goal
Tech finished with a slight edge in total offense with 384 yards to Wayne’s 375. Scarlett completed 26-of-45 passes for 235 yards. Leffingwell rushed 21 times for 85 yards.
Brett Gervais led the Huskies’ defensive effort with 10 tackles. Tanner Agen had six stops including a sack and the fumble recovery.
Michigan Tech, which is now 15-2 in its last 17 GLIAC openers, will play on the road again next week. The Huskies will travel to Canton, Ohio, to face Malone at 2 p.m.
(Information Courtesy of MTU Athletics)