Tech football ready to host GVSU

Courtesy of MTU Athletics

The Michigan Tech football team jumped into the national rankings this week at No. 22 in the poll. The ranking is the first since last season (Oct. 4) when Tech was No. 21 in the poll with a 4-1 record. Tech and Grand Valley State are two of the five GLIAC teams ranked in the poll. No. 13 Hillsdale, No. 17 Saginaw Valley State and No. 19 Ashland are the others.

Saturday’s game is being billed the Drive for 5 as Michigan Tech tries to reset its home attendance record. The Huskies hope to draw a record 5,000 fans to break the school record for attendance of 4,332, set Aug. 28, 2004, in a game vs. Northern Michigan. Ticket prices for this Saturday’s game have been discounted to $5 for adults and $3 for children.

Michigan Tech is 3-0 on the season for the sixth time in the last 15 years. The Huskies opened with wins vs. Tiffin, at Walsh and vs. Findlay. The last time Tech was 3-0 was in 2010, when it won its first four games and last four games en route to an 8-2 season.

Michigan Tech leads the GLIAC in five different defensive statistical categories. The Huskies are first in scoring defense (10.7 points allowed per game), total defense (256.0 yards allowed per game), pass efficiency defense (95.7 rating allowed per game), rushing defense (63.7 yards allowed per game) and sacks (3.3 per game).

Saturday’s game features the GLIAC’s top scoring defense (Michigan Tech allowing just 10.7 points per game) vs. the league’s top scoring offense (Grand Valley averaging 51.2 points per game). The Huskies have the higher scoring margin so far this season at +28.0 compared to the Lakers’ +24.4

Michigan Tech has three running backs averaging at least 40 yards per game this season. Sophomore Charlie Leffingwell <> has led the team in rushing each of the first three games and owns a 76.3 yards-per-game average. He has scored two rushing touchdowns on the year. Senior Akeem Cason <> is second on the team in rushing at 45.0 yards per game with three TDs. The starter at running back in every game this season has been senior Cedrick Barber <>, who owns a 43.0 average and three scores on the year.

Freshman Paul Kuoppala <> posted his first career interception vs. Findlay last Saturday. The 6-2, 240-pound linebacker has now made two of the biggest plays of the season on defense. The other was a 36-yard fumble return for a touchdown in the season opener vs. Tiffin. Kuoppala currently ranks tied for eighth on the team in tackles with 11.

Quarterback Tyler Scarlett <> ranks as the sixth-best in the GLIAC in pass efficiency rating with a 148.7 mark. The sophomore and former GLIAC Freshman of the Year averages 188 yards per game, but he’s been most effective on third down. Tech ranks third in the league in third-down conversions at 51.2 percent. Scarlett was a huge part of that last week, helping the offense stay on the field during 8-of-12 third downs and 2-of-2 fourth down tries.

Michigan Tech is playing just its second ever night game at Sherman Field. The Huskies installed lights at Sherman Field in 2008, and the first night game was played Sept. 26, 2009, vs. Grand Valley State. The Lakers won that game 55-7.

Eight different players have scored points for Michigan Tech this season, and six of them average at least 4.0 points per game. Kicker Garrett Mead <> leads the team in scoring at 6.7 points per game. Running backs Cedrick Barber, Akeem Cason and Charlie Leffingwell are all averaging a touchdown per game (6.0). Tight end Bryan LaChapelle <> and fullback Cole Welch <> average 4.0.

For the second straight week, free safety Emmett Bjorn <> led the Huskies in tackles. He posted 10 stops vs. Findlay last Saturday and added two pass breakups. Bjorn leads Tech on the season with 19 tackles including 12 solos.

Michigan Tech head coach Tom Kearly is in his seventh season as head coach and 13th overall with the Huskies program. The skipper owns a 40-26 record (.606 winning percentage) and has coached Tech to two of the eight eight-win seasons in school history. Kearly, a Hancock native and 1979 Winona State graduate, coached at Central Michigan for 19 seasons before returning to the Copper Country in 2000. He was the GLIAC Coach of the Year in 2010.

Michigan Tech and Grand Valley State have met 25 times since the series began in 1976 and every year since 1994. The Lakers hold a 22-3 lead in the series. The Huskies snapped a 16-game GVSU streak by winning 20-17 at Sherman Field in 2010. Grand Valley earned a 24-20 victory in Allendale a year ago.

Michigan Tech’s team captains for the 2012 season are senior linebacker Justin Armstrong <>, senior defensive tackle Jake Clark, senior tight end Bryan LaChapelle and senior offensive lineman Chris Mullen <>.

Michigan Tech leaves the Upper Peninsula just once in its first six games of the 2012 season. That once was Sept. 15 at Walsh. Of the other five games in that stretch, four are at home and the other is at Northern Michigan … The last game Tech played in where both teams were ranked was Sept. 17, 2011, when the No. 19 Huskies traveled to No. 13 Wayne State … Grand Valley State Sports Information Director Tim Nott worked at Michigan Tech from 1994-97.

Superior National Bank sponsors the Superior Player of the Game. Following each football game, a player is chosen. A list of the 2012 Superior Players of the Game is below.
Sept. 8 vs. Tiffin Dan Perrault <> (9 tackles, 2.0 sacks, 1 forced fumble)
Sept. 15 vs. Walsh    Bryan LaChapelle (7 rec., 63 yds, 1 TD) &
Emmett Bjorn (six tackles, 1 interception)
Sept. 22 vs. Findlay    Emmett Bjorn (10 tackles, 2 pass breakups)