It was a rough weekend for Michigan Tech sports teams, as the soccer, volleyball and football teams all took it on the chin in road contests south of the Mackinac Bridge.
Michigan Tech football coach Tom Kearly made it pretty clear why Tech lost to Wayne State Saturday in Detroit: "They played better than us. They made the fewest mistakes and made the most big plays," exactly the recipe for victory Kearly had predicted.
During the game, the Warriors had an 80-yard play that set up a 3-yard touchdown, and a 41-yard touchdown run. They also won the turnover battle 3-1, picking off Tech QB Tyler Scarlett three times.
But to say the 17-point victory margin was indicative of the caliber of the teams would be a reach.
Tech won in time of possession (34:28-25:32) and third-down conversions (7-of-17 to 3-of-11), and was almost equal in yardage (WSU 353-323). The game may have turned on just one play.
WSU QB Mickey Mohner connected with Troy Burrell for an 80-yard strike with just over a minute remaining in the first half, a pass that was nearly intercepted by Tech's Ben Foelker. A few seconds earlier, the Huskies were driving with a chance to build on a 10-6 lead before a sack on Scarlett forced Tech to punt. A few seconds later, the Warriors punched it into the endzone to take a 13-10 lead.
Scarlett was then intercepted for the second time in the game on just the second play of the second half, setting up the Warriors for their second touchdown. Prior to the sequence at the end of the first half, Tech had allowed WSU just two field goals, but in a span of just 2:37 of game time, Tech went from a 4-point lead to a 10-point deficit.
Kearly noted that two of Scarlett's three INTs were great plays by Wayne's speedy secondary, and Tech's running game could never develop enough traction against Wayne's stout defensive front to open up options for its freshman QB.
"I think (Scarlett) will be just fine," Kearly said. "You aren't going to play great every day - I'm excited to see how he bounces back this week in practice."
The Huskies return home, but their schedule does not get any easier, as they host Indianapolis, coming off an emotional last-second win over Grand Valley State.
Powerhouse GVSU, who is used to winning by a few touchdowns, is actually 0-2 in the GLIAC, having lost by three points to Hillsdale to start conference play.
"This league is so competitive - anyone can win," Kearly said. It sounds clich, but it seems to be true in the GLIAC, and around the football world.
After all, the Detroit Lions are 2-0 and have scored 75 points, and the Michigan Wolverines have more wins than Ohio State and Michigan State.
I'm not a betting man, but if I was, I don't even think I'd gamble with any football predictions right now. It's been a fascinating start to the season, and I'm already getting anxious for another week of football.
I encourage you to head to Sherman Field this Saturday afternoon to see how Tech responds to a loss.
The Huskies only lost twice last year, but it was in successive weeks. With Grand Valley's struggles, a playoff spot could be a distinct possibility with just two losses - unlike last year when Tech missed the playoffs with an 8-2 record - but the Huskies hope to nip any losing streak in the bud. The only thing I'll predict Saturday against Indy is a great game.
Stephen Anderson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.