Tech football falls to Rams in NCAA playoffs

HOUGHTON, Mich. — Garrett Mead had kicked two game-winning field goals earlier this season to help Michigan Tech go 9-1 and earn a berth into the NCAA Playoffs for just the second time in school history. His heroics at Wayne State turned a 17-15 loss into an 18-17 win. He also booted a 39-yard field goal at Northern Michigan to win 34-31.

In Sautday’s NCAA Super Region 4 Quarterfinal at Sherman Field, Mead’s streak ended. The senior pushed a 26-yard field goal wide right with three seconds left, and the Angelo State Rams escaped with a 42-41 victory.

Tech had leads of 21 and 14 in the contest, but ASU, which features one of the top offenses in Division II, came back each occasion. A touchdown and extra point with 3:31 left put the Rams on top for the first time in the game 42-41.

After two punts, Tyler Scarlett drove the Huskies 58 yards in 1:21 to set up the potential game winner.

“We win as a team and lose as a team,” said Tech coach Tom Kearly. “This is not on Garrett. He’s a big reason we’re in this position. No kicker is 100 percent. He missed it, and not by much.”

Senior Charlie Leffingwell rushed for a career-high 236 yards and three touchdown on 34 carries. He scored his second TD of the game with 9:31 left in the second quarter for a 21-0 Huskies lead.

Angelo State (9-2) came back with a 40-yard touchdown pass and a five-yard run in a six-minute span to pull within 21-14 at half.

A Scarlett-to-Ian Wienke touchdown connection extended the margin to 28-14 midway through the third. An 88-yard strike on the very next play from scrimmage closed the margin to seven once again.

When Leffingwell picked up a fumble on an option play at the ASU 36 and broke a tackle to get into the endzone, the Huskies appeared to be in the driver’s seat. Tech even got the ball right back as Kyle Washington threw an interception after being hit by Nelson Wienke on the next play. Derek Ferris hauled in the ball at midfield, but the ensuing drive stalled, and Tech punted.

Angelo went 10 plays to pull back within seven (35-28) with 11:24 to play.

Tech answered immediately with a 66-yard drive capped by a 35-yard acrobatic catch by Brandon Cowie over the top of a defender. Perhaps the difference in the game came on the conversion as Mead’s extra point bounced off the upright no good.

The Rams scored on each of their next two possessions—a 65-yard drive for a touchdown a 5:42 and a one-play 50-yard drive at 3:31. Both extra points were good, putting the visitors on top 42-41.

Tech’s next drive ended in a Scarlett interception on fourth down with just under two minutes left. The Huskies used their timeouts and forced the Rams to punt 28 seconds later, getting ball back with 1:27 to work.

Scarlett completed three-of-four passes and rushed twice on the final drive to put Tech on the left hash mark at the 16-yard line with :06 showing.

After an ASU timeout, Mead’s kick slipped just to the outside of the right upright.

“It was a good football game,” said Kearly. “We had chances, and we gave up some big plays. Like I told the team, we’ve won two games on the last play. Those things are going to even out eventually.

“Let’s give credit to Angelo. We got on them early, and they came back. They’re a really good football team.”

Scarlett was 22-of-28 for 225 yards and three touchdowns in his final game in a Huskies uniform. Andrew Clark caught eight balls for 82 yards. Cowie had four catches and two touchdowns.

Tech out-gained ASU by a 471-to-449 margin and held a huge time of possession advantage (37:40 to 22:20).

Washington completed 20-of-30 passes for 339 yards and four TDs for the Rams. Talon Smith caught four of those for 169 yards and two scores.

Tech’s defense was led by Paul Kuoppala‘s 10 tackles.

Nineteen Tech seniors played their final games for the Black and Gold.

Michigan Tech wraps up its 92nd season of intercollegiate football with a 9-2 record. The 2014 Huskies are just the fourth team in program history to reach nine wins.

(Information Courtesy of MTU Athletics)