MARQUETTE, Mich.- In a battle of Upper Peninsula teams who had high early season hopes and were once ranked in the nation’s top 25, the Michigan Tech Huskies squeaked out a 21-18 victory over Northern Michigan from the Superior Dome on Saturday (Nov. 12). It was the final game of the season for both teams as they battled for the Miner’s Cup.
23 Wildcats seniors were introduced before the game.
“The seniors were a great group,” NMU coach Bernie Anderson said. “They did a great job of preparing and working hard every day for four or five years.”
NMU’s (5-6, 3-7 GLIAC) junior kicker Rockne Belmonte missed a 52-yard field goal as time expired. The kick would have sent the game into overtime after the Huskies had a roughing the passer penalty on the previous play.
The ‘Cats were down 21-10 with 11 minutes to go in the game before putting together an 80-yard drive capped off by junior running back Prince Young’s 9-yard run. He added a two-point conversion to give the Huskies only a 3-point lead.
“It was a tough season and it ended on a tough note,” Anderson said. “When you play your heart out like we did today you have to feel proud about yourself.”
Neither team scored in the first half. The ‘Cats had three punts, a turnover
on downs and an interception and the Huskies had three punts, a fumble and a field goal blocked.
The second half opened with scoring plays on four straight drives for the
two teams. Belmonte opened the game’s scoring with a 42-yard field goal on NMU’s first possession after a 6-play 13-yard drive. Senior Brennan VanEffen set up the drive with a 57-yard second half kickoff return.
MTU (7-4, 6-4 GLIAC) answered with a scoring drive on its next possession.
It was capped off with a 16-yard touchdown from quarterback Tyler Scarlett
to receiver Steve Worthy. It was a 7-play 91-yard drive.
Like this Huskies, the ‘Cats answered with a scoring drive of their own.
Junior running back Prince Young capped off the 4-play, 55-yard drive with a 2-yard plunge into the endzone, giving NMU a 10-7 lead. Senior quarterback Carter Kopach had 38-yard run to setup the touchdown.
Justin Springer put the Huskies back on top with a 23-yard pass from Cedric Barber. Barber took a lateral from Scarlett and found Springer wide open in the back of the endzone for a 14-10 lead.
NMU punted on its next two possessions and the Huskies went to the ground
game to run out the clock. Akeem Cason found a hole and went 63 yards for a touchdown early in the fourth quarter.
Belmonte broke the NMU record for field goals in a season on Saturday,
making his 15th kick of the year with his third quarter 42-yarder.
NMU’s seniors are Brett Angel, Jared Buss, Cedric Douglas, Anthony Echols,
Robert Edmonds, Matt Forward, Carter Kopach, Jonathan Kraai, Jacob Lehmann, Nathan Linsmeier, Anthony Marietti, Eric McKnight, Junior Michel, Garrett Peck, Zach Pierson, Tony Propson, Kyle Senn, Demetri Stewart, Joby Sullivan, Craig Thompson, Marcus Tribble, Brennan VanEffen, Spencer Williams.
The ‘Cat offense finished with 267 yards of offense (126 rushing and 141 passing). Young had 81 yards on 17 carries. Kopach was 23-for-37 for 140 yards passing. He also rushed 12 times for 33 yards. Sophomore receiver
Christian Jessie led the team with nine receptions for 43 yards.
Freshman linebacker Wyatt Jurasin led the defensive unit with 12 total
tackles (five solo and seven assisted). Junior lineman Zach Anderson had
nine tackles and seniors Stewart and Echols had eight tackles each. Michel
had a fumble recovery.