HOUGHTON, Mich. — Michigan Tech overcame a 12-0 first-half deficit to defeat Saginaw Valley State 26-20 today on Homecoming at Sherman Field. DeShawn Nelson had an 84-yard interception return for a touchdown in the third quarter, and Zack Skeels scored the go-ahead touchdown with 3:29 to play to help the Huskies improve to 3-0.
The game was tight throughout. The Cardinals hit a 39-yard touchdown pass on the first play of the fourth quarter to pull within 20-18. On the conversion play, Bryan Fobbs made a one-handed grab to tie the game.
Tech was forced to punt on its ensuing possession, but Brett Gervais made a leaping interception to get the ball right back. The Huskies turned it into a score 10 plays and 66 yards later as Skeels bowled his way into the endzone. Tyler Scarlett converted two key passes to Brandon Cowie on the drive to keep it alive.
Saginaw was forced to punt after three plays on its next drive, but managed to get the ball back at its own 30 with 1:22 and no timeouts left. A third-down sack by Evan Mayer and an incompletion finished off the Cardinals’ chances.
“It was Homecoming with an electric crowd, and we had to hold them defensively twice in the last three minutes,” said coach Tom Kearly. “It was a great win for us.”
Kicking was an issue for both sides, as only two-of-eight combined place kicks were converted.
Tech drove to the Cardinals two on its opening series, but Garrett Mead‘s kick bounced off the left upright no good.
After SVSU put together an 80-yard scoring drive (Tanner Agen blocked the extra point), Mead attempted a 39-yard field goal and missed right.
The visitors added to their lead with a second touchdown with 7:52 left in the second quarter, but missed the PAT for a 12-0 margin.
Tech finally got on the board 3:35 before halftime. On fourth-and-five at the SVSU 15, Scarlett hit Anthony Root on a crossing route over the middle for the score. Mead added the PAT for a 12-7 score, which is where it stood at the break.
Charlie Leffingwell and the Huskies’ offensive line took over in the third quarter. Leffingwell carried the ball six straight times for 47 yards and 10 times total on a 13-play scoring drive that was capped by Kyle Michaelson‘s one-yard run. Tech converted two fourth downs on the drive to take the lead. Mead’s extra point was wide, leaving the score 13-12.
The Cardinals were driving to regain the lead when Agen hit quarterback Keith Moore as he threw. The ball fell into the arms of Nelson, who picked up some blocks down field to return it for a touchdown and a 20-12 advantage.
Saginaw Valley State (0-3) did tie the game early in the fourth quarter, but it was the Michigan Tech defense getting an interception and two key stops in the final minutes to secure the victory.
The Black and Gold limited their foe to 57 yards rushing and 293 for the game, while using a balanced attack (162 rushing, 194 passing) to accumulate 356 total yards.
Leffingwell finished with a season-high 155 yards on 29 carries. Scarlett was 14-of-24 for 194 yards with eight balls going to Cowie for 114 yards.
Paul Kuoppala led the Huskies defense in tackles with 11. Gervais and Agen both had eight stops. Agen’s total included three for loss and a sack in addition to the blocked PAT and the hit on Nelson’s interception.
Today’s win snapped Michigan Tech’s seven-game skid in the series vs. Saginaw Valley. It also keeps the Huskies atop the GLIAC North standings. They will travel to arch rival Northern Michigan next Saturday (Sept. 27) night to battle for the Miner’s Cup. Kickoff at the Superior Dome is set for 7 p.m.
(Information Courtesy of MTU Athletics)